|ESPN.com: NHL Preview 2005||[Print without images]|
Offense: The fact that captain Olli Jokinen signed a one-year deal that could see him become an unrestricted free agent next summer isn't likely to be a distraction if he's as serious about staying in Florida as he says he is. Jokinen already has agreed to move from center to wing, where he'll start the season on the team's top line with Nieuwendyk and Gelinas. Keenan is betting Nieuwendyk, Roberts, Gelinas and Jozef Stumpel cash in. The problem is most of them are on the downside of their careers, and the question is whether they see Florida as a place to win games or a place to get a good base for that retirement tan.
There were mixed reports on forward Weiss and defenseman Bouwmeester during their stint in the AHL. Motivation and focus were issues for both players, according to some scouts. Still, both played well when lent to the Chicago Wolves during their run to the Calder Cup final.
Defense: Keenan has done a nice job of bringing in the veteran help he wanted when he was coaching here 2001-03. Sean Hill, Alexander Karpovtsev, Eric Cairns and Joel Kwiatkowski will give the team much-needed stability, although they'll struggle to provide much offensive assistance.
Goaltending: Much will be made of Keenan's handling of top netminder Roberto Luongo, taking him to arbitration in order to ensure that Luongo was in camp from the start. That Luongo turned down a lucrative long-term deal worth $25 million over five years, says more about Luongo's stubbornness than Keenan, and one assumes it could have a bearing on Luongo's play this season.
Search: Florida Panthers
|Comings & Goings|
G Jamie McLennan; D Eric Cairns; D Alexander Karpovtsev; D Sean Hill; D Joel Kwiatkowski; C Joe Nieuwendyk; LW Gary Roberts; LW Martin Gelinas; C Chris Gratton; C Jozef Stumpel; D Dan Focht.
C Matt Cullen; D Mathieu Biron; C Byron Ritchie; D Andreas Lilja; LW Darcy Hordichuk; D Lyle Odelein; D Burke Henry; LW Eric Beaudoin; RW Christian Berglund; RW Mikael Samuelsson; RW Donald Audette; LW Eric Messier; G Steve Shields; D Pavel Trnka.
|When we last saw them|
Jokinen led the team with 26 goals and 32 assists in the 2003-04 season.
Luongo took on most of the load in 2003-04, finishing with a 25-33-14 record and seven shutouts.
“We're all still getting our feet wet with this team. But our goals are high, no doubt about it.”
— Joe Nieuwendyk on his move to Florida