Jul 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
The Panthers haven’t fared very well over the last two seasons — finishing 29th and 30th overall in consecutive years — but, according to veteran goalie Roberto Luongo, that lack of success wasn’t due to a lack of talent.
“I like it — the talent was always there,” Luongo said in previewing the upcoming campaign, per Vancouver’s Team 1040 radio. “We had a lot of good talent in the young kids, but we needed to surround them with some good veterans.”
Florida has been stockpiling talent for quite some time now, and should (theoretically) reap some of the rewards this season… even though all that talent is still remarkably young. Former Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau, 21, is entering his third professional campaign, while Finnish center Aleksander Barkov — who is still just 18 years old — will embark on his sophomore year.
Big things are expected from another 18-year-old, Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick at this year’s draft and it’s also worth noting that Nick Bjugstad, last year’s leading scorer, just turned 22 last week.
But as Luongo mentioned, veterans were in big demand to help these kids along. That’s partly why Florida GM Dale Tallon went on a summer spending spree, dropping more than $53 million to bring in the likes of Dave Bolland, Shawn Thornton, Jussi Jokinen and Luongo’s former teammate in Vancouver, Willie Mitchell. In Bolland, Thornton and Mitchell the Panthers inherited five Stanley Cup championships; they also brought aboard a veteran NHL coach in Gerard Gallant with the aim of providing stability after going through two coaches (Kevin Dineen and Peter Horachek) last season.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about our new coach,” Luongo explained. “I think for our team, honestly, it’s a matter of making sure everything comes together at the beginning of the season with the new coaching staff.
“If we can stay healthy, I think we’ll be in the mix.”
May 6, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT
“I’m still in between and weighing the options.”
May 6, 2015, 12:35 PM EDT
Calgary’s Bob Hartley is considered the favorite.
May 6, 2015, 11:59 AM EDT
Recently won a KHL championship.
May 6, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT
Reports now suggest Toronto’s interested.
May 6, 2015, 11:13 AM EDT
Deposition slated for no earlier than July.
May 6, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT
Fifth-round pick in 2011 spent all of this year in AHL Bridgeport.
May 6, 2015, 10:46 AM EDT
The same club that finished first in the league standings this year.
May 6, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT
They’ve certainly had more success in them in the 2015 playoffs.
May 6, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT
The former Sharks coach seems to have interest in Edmonton.
May 6, 2015, 8:56 AM EDT
Montreal hopes to avoid falling behind 3-0 in its series against Tampa Bay.
May 6, 2015, 8:04 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
May 6, 2015, 2:31 AM EDT
Anaheim still leads the series 2-1.
May 6, 2015, 1:32 AM EDT
Facing elimination and possible sweep, Minnesota is frustrated.
May 6, 2015, 12:56 AM EDT
Quite a finish in Calgary.
May 6, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
Similar to what happened to Martin Gelinas in 2004.
May 5, 2015, 11:41 PM EDT
Calgary can’t build momentum.
May 5, 2015, 11:12 PM EDT
Chicago has Minnesota on the brink of elimination.
May 5, 2015, 10:49 PM EDT
Game 4 is Thursday in Minnesota.
May 5, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT
Chicago in control of this series right now.
May 5, 2015, 9:19 PM EDT
“But it would certainly be in the right situation, with the right people.”
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