Well, its August and that means there's not a whole much of anything going on. That said, I'm gonna try and nail out 30 team evaluations before the preseason is underway.
Now, the Flordia Panthers
Team M.O.: The team's been focused on a defense-first system that forces the other team to take shots that are easy to field, but now that the team's looking for a new GM the M.O. is likely to change. Lets say they're going to do the same thing this year and be going in a different direction once new blood is inserted.
Last Season: Close only counts in horseshoes, and while the Panthers were tight up until the end, they didn't have enough gas to get out of 9th in the conference and thus eliminated from the playoffs. Then their star defenseman walks while they got a spare in return. Talk about a kick in the pants.
Offense: This team relies on David Booth, Stephen Weiss, and Nathan Horton to generate the offensive attack. Not saying they aren't talented or capable, but they're not quite in their prime and haven't exactly had the best role models to emulate (well, save Richard Zednik, but he's gone now.) Nevertheless, Booth and Weiss took great strides last season and the trio should be good again this season. Steven Reinprecht was added after the season in a trade with Phoenix to pair up with Cory Stillman to provide some veteran leadership. Gregory Campbell has emerged as a legitimate checking line forward and Michael Frolik was impressive last season, generating 45 points in his rookie campaign, which may get him a spot on the second line. Looking at the forward depth chart, they seem to need reinforcements for their bottom-six forwards. If they can pick up someone like Mike Peca or Manny Malhotra they'd be good. If they could do that and pick up a toughguy (doesn't have to be anyone special, just a raw goon) they'd be better off. Getting a top-six winger might be a good idea too, why not Maxim Afingeonov?
Defense: Keith Ballard flourished in the Panthers system last season and put up the best numbers he's had in several seasons. Same goes for Bryan McCabe, who was an afterthought in Toronto yet because a positive (yet expensive) contributor for the Panthers. Jordan Leopold was acquired for the departing Jay Bouwmeester and should provide a top-four presense for the team. Beyond this though the remaining defensemen (spots 4-7) on the squad played in 41 NHL games last season combined While Bryan Allen should rebound this season, they should still get a veteran presence on the squad to help with the development of the young defenders who'll no doubt be riding the plane from Florida to Rochester.
Goaltending: Tomas Vokoun is an excellent starter who works well when his goaltending partner can still get into 25 games. With Scott Clemmensen joining on after a career season in New Jersey, expect the goaltending to be solid as a rock for the next coming season.
Expectations: I think I need to see the final roster to determine how these guys finish up. If they can get a few other components before the season starts, then I think they have a chance at grabbing the Number 7 or 8 spots come playoff time. If this is the roster the team goes into the season with however, then I think Miami is going to miss the playoffs for an 11th year.