The Florida Panthers weren't too busy during the 2017 offseason, as they're likely banking on a few players bouncing back and top forwards Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau staying healthy for a full 82-game campaign in 2017-18.
While they do have some assets in place, the team did make two significant acquisitions this summer. Evgeny Dadonov returns to the Panthers where he played 55 games for the team from 2009-12 after spending the past five seasons in the KHL. Dadonov was one of the top scorers in Russia over the last few years and is expected to slot in on the top line with Barkov.
The team also signed 36-year-old sniper Radim Vrbata, who is coming off a 20-goal, 55-point season with the Coyotes. Vrbata possesses a lethal shot and is usually good for at least 20 goals every year, but it's only a matter of time before his age catches up to him. Both players will help give the Panthers a pretty solid top-six forward group entering 2017-18, but it's depth that remains a prime concern.
The team did shed some salary cap in the expansion this summer, shipping Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault to the Golden Knights. They also bought out veteran Jussi Jokinen.The loss of Marchessault may hurt the most, as he surprised everyone by bursting out with 30 goals last season and becoming a key part of the team's offense.
The decision to not re-sign fan favorite Jaromir Jagr makes sense, but it will still impact the club. He may be 45-years of age, but Jagr ranked fourth on the Panthers with 16 goals and 46 points in 82 games last season, averaging 17 minutes of ice time.The move caught some by surprise as Larry Brooks of the New York Post had reported that Jagr was told after the season he would have a new deal brought to him after the Vegas Expansion Draft, but an offer never came.
The Panthers are a very similar team to the one that took the ice in 2016-17, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Huberdeau and Barkov can wreck some serious havoc if they can stay healthy, while it'll be very interesting to see how the highly skilled Dadonov re-adapts to the NHL level.
Photo Credit: Keystone Press