Today our blogging team expert is Donny Rivette
from SBN's Litter Box Cats
. Can't say I know any Panthers fans but I imagine they're a special breed who like disappointment but then we discovered that Donny is actually a Whalers fan from back in the day... so his
credibility factor goes way up.
We asked Donny nine fantasy related questions about the Panthers and the NHL in general. Follow the jump to read his answers...
To see the rest of our Blogger's Breakouts click here for the main page.
By Donny Rivette, Litter Box Cats
Q1) Panthers Breakout of the Year?
C Shawn Matthias
. He was my selection a year ago, though he appeared to struggle with his confidence and fitting in to an admittedly bumbling Panthers club racked with injuries and a hundred other negative issues. Turned it on late though, visibly a changed player in the final third of the season. Looking for that to carry over on a far more solidly grounded team, if only mentally.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Panthers?
F Christopher Higgins
. Proven to be a slow starter but the upside is possibly worth the wait. Could become one of those underrated but forever-cherished character types that chips in 15-20 goals. The pressure's all on him with a single-season contract, and as long as the Cats keep expectations on the low side, he'll have every opportunity to earn an extension. If not? An easy sayonara, with several prospects hungry for his minutes.
Q3) Breakdown on the Panthers?
Deep in goal with Tomas Vokoun
and Scott Clemmensen
, uber-prospect G Jacob Markstrom
will slug it out in Rochester until a decision is made on the future of Vokoun (a pending UFA) with Florida. The defense is in its best shape in recent memory, as Bryan McCabe
, Dennis Wideman
, Mike Weaver
, Dmitry Kulikov
, Bryan Allen
, and Jason Garrison
round out a solid - if not flashy - rearguard. Once again, offense will presumably be achieved by committee, unless several players finally live up to potential (Rostislav Olesz
) or explode in a career comeback (Higgins
, Marty Reasoner
). All eyes will be on F David Booth
, for obvious reasons, and C Stephen Weiss
improving upon a sterling season, doubling his goal output from a year ago.
Q4) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Edmonton. Not in a Coyotes-style rebirth but there is a bundle of talent among the Oilers following an almost complete makeover. Going to be tough to play and fun to watch as the youth develops.
Q5) Who are your First Five Picks in a Fantasy Draft?
1) Ovechkin 2) Crosby 3) Luongo 4) Datsyuk 5) Green (WAS)
Q6) Best Value for Money Fantasy Goalie?
(COL). At $1.81M - and a contract year to boot - simply coming within continental distance of last season's 38-25-7 record is the steal of the league.
Q7) Taylor or Tyler?
. A veteran supporting cast will be the difference.
Q8) Your Stanley Cup Pick?
Chicago. Stan Bowman has done some wonderful work tweaking the lineup; they're not done.
BONUS) Your best guess for the number of NHL games Jacob Markstrom gets into this year?
This one's obviously tough, and forces a cop-out on my end. Give you two answers: If Vokoun stays beyond the trade deadline? Zip. If Tvo's dealt? Marky ultimately starts lion's share of games with Clemmensen backing up. Realistically, he's only going to see the end of Florida's bench if either of Vokoun or Clemmer are injured. Hard to believe, no matter what potentially heroic numbers the Panthers' starter puts up, that Vokoun might be retained only to be lost a la Bouwmeester in free agency.
Thanks to Donny for his insight... he's writing some great stuff (even if it is about the Panthers) so head over and dive into the Litter Box