Lots of new faces in Florida so projecting is a little more difficult than normal. Luckily we have Donny Rivette from Litter Box Cats in as our Panthers expert. He'll help us sort through all these new players to see if there any fantasy potential here. Make sure you pay LBC a visit... they do good stuff.
If you're interested in FHS' breakout picks and fantasy take on the Panthers check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.
BY DONNY RIVETTE FROM LITTER BOX CATS
Q1) Panthers' Breakout of the Year?
Given the roster's massive turnover since June, it's going to have to be Jose Theodore; among a myriad of new faces as yet unfamiliar with each other's nuances, Theo must recapture the magic he displayed almost 10 years ago if the club is to have any sort of sustained success going forward. He will be the most important piece of the puzzle. Alternate: winger David Booth, who remains due for a whopper of a season.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Panthers?
Third-year defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. Still only 20, he will finally be - permanently - surrounded with a collection of experienced talent featuring Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, and returning blueliner Mike Weaver. He's as inherently skilled as any young d-man in the league, immensely exciting to watch, and his creativity is only beginning to blossom. Alternate: forward Evgeni Dadonov, whose offensive efforts appeared stifled under former coach Peter DeBoer (a roster-wide problem).
Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Another year older - as are his still-youngish but frighteningly talented teammates - the Isles' John Tavares should be on course for a killer campaign. A solid group of veterans, and an even better bunch of up-and-comers, gives the third-year center more to work with than ever before.
Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on the Panthers?
Going to refrain from using the word "likely", and simply say the leading candidate at this early stage would have to be forward Tomas Fleischmann, if only due to the public nature of his medical issues from a season ago. Both the player and team continue to tout his current health as being game-ready, so we'll see.
Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on the Panthers?
His making the club out of camp is a longshot, but for our purposes here we'll dispense with the usual suspects (Gudbranson & Huberdeau) and select Moose Jaw wing and 2010 first-rounder Quinton Howden; if he's able to stick beyond September he could well challenge for a Calder Trophy (yep, we said it).
Q6) How do you see the Panthers' goalie situation playing out this year?
It's going to be Theodore and very capable backup Scott Clemmensen (in the final year of a three-season deal). Not predicting a "rotation", nor are we likely to see much - if any - of Jacob Markstrom. There's just no reason to rush him, especially as San Antonio should in theory be a far more successful environment than that which was experienced in Rochester a season ago. Final word: barring injury, Theo's the starter.
Q7) Of all the bits and pieces the Panthers added this off-season which one will have the biggest fantasy impact?
It's too bad coaches aren't included in some funky way into fantasy pools, since Kevin Dineen is likely to be the club's most valuable all-around addition. On the ice, Scottie Upshall should have a tremendous year - by his standards - playing alongside a cast which likely includes David Booth and center Stephen Weiss, both of whom are, of course, very safe bets in the middle-rounds if available.
Great work from Donny and the guys at LBC. If you have any other questions about the Panthers fire us a comment and we (or maybe Donny) will answer them.