Despite starting July 1st at the bottom of capgeek.com's salary cap list, the Panthers are now mere thousands away from the cap floor of $48 million.
To recap their signings here is a nice little chart:
Tomas Fleischmann - 4 years, 4.5 million per
Ed Jovanovski - 4 years, 4.1 million per
Scottie Upshall - 4 years, 3.5 million per
Tomas Kopecky - 4 years, 3.0 million per
Sean Bergenheim - 4 years, 2.75 million per
Marcel Goc - 3 years, 1.7 million perJose Theodore - 2 years, 1.5 millionMatthew Bradley- not disclosed as of writing
Brian Campbell - 4 years remaining at 7.1 million per
Kris Versteeg - 1 year remaining at 3.08 million per
Though Bergenheim and Goc might be overpaid for even this year's class and the added bonus of signing with a team looking to get to the floor, all in all the Panthers are a much better team than last year.
Here is what I feel the lines might look like:
Upshall Weiss Dadonov
Kopecky Fleischman Booth
Versteeg Goc Bergenheim
Skille Bradley Repik
Garrison [Gudbranson, who still needs to be signed]
The Panthers look to be almost ready for next year, but still need a few tweaks.
* Skille (or one of the wings) is left out of the top 9, if they can move one wing to center and slide Goc down to 4th line, that will really help the Panthers get more scoring.
*They need to fill the 13th forward hole. 13th can easily be filled by an AHLer like McArdle or the resigning of Shawn Matthias or Mike Santorelli, who are still Panthers RFAs.
* If the Panthers can get another top 6 defender, I think they should. Garrison and Weaver should either be the extra and AHL D when season starts.
* Erik Gudbranson still needs to be signed. But no worries, tons of money exists, and it is likely that Tallon told Gudbranson he will continue talks after the frenzy of July 1st was over.
* Forward tweaks can still be made in training camp with guys like Huberdeau, Howden, Bjugstad and Shore looking to make the team. Huberdeau and Howden have the best shot, but as of now I see all of them returning to juniors, college or playing in the AHL.
It is likely that this is the roster the Panthers go into training camp with. They did not get a huge impact player in free agency, but other than Brad Richards, there really wasn't one to get. Fleischmann, if he continues to produce like he did with Colorado and his health is stable, will be an impact 2nd line center. I also see Scottie Upshall becoming an impact player. Not big, not huge but will definitely be looking at 25 goals.
Tallon has brought guys to Florida, with the hopes that more will follow in the next off-season. He overpaid, but with the Panthers need for a lot of players, the rising cap floor, and the current market, it had to be done to get the guys they wanted.
I give the Panthers a B+ in a hard UFA year. Congratulations, Florida, 2011-2012 looks promising and exciting to say the least.