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Panthers' Lineup Adds Huberdeau, Mueller

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 9:30 AM ET / Features
By Corey Masisak  - NHL.com
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Panthers\' Lineup Adds Huberdeau, Mueller

For those hockey fans who are involved in fantasy leagues, Dale Tallon's work with the Florida Panthers in the calendar year of 2011 looked like a real-world nod to the yo-yo nature of keeper-based contests.

Tallon gutted an underachieving roster before the 2011 trade deadline, and it looked like he ushered in a new five-year plan in South Florida. Instead, the rebuild happened much quicker. Tallon added players in bulk last summer, in part because he needed to fill roster spots and reach the salary cap floor.

2012-13 Panthers Fantasy Team Preview

Under-valued: Peter Mueller - Posted nine goals and 20 points in 15 games after getting traded to Colorado in 2009-10, but then missed all of 2010-11 and totaled just seven goals and 16 points in 32 games last season. Now in Florida, Mueller has the skills to put up decent numbers -- he just has to stay healthy.

Over-valued: Stephen Weiss - After recording 33 points and a plus-17 in first 37 games last year, Weiss cooled off with 24 points and a minus-12 in his final 43. He's good for around 50 points, but don't expect him to be a top-30 center this year.

Sleeper: Jonathan Huberdeau - Likely to make the team this season, Huberdeau could end up centering the second line. If that happens, he's worth a flyer in final round of fantasy draft after scoring 30 goals and 72 points in 37 games in the QMJHL last year.

-- Follow Matt Cubeta on Twitter: @NHLQubes

His new collection of players jelled much quick than anyone could have expected, and new coach Kevin Dineen led the Panthers to the first division title in franchise history and the first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in more than a decade.

This offseason was much quieter for Tallon, and now the building process becomes more about patience than prodigious spending. Peter Mueller was a low-risk signing who could provide a nice return if he can stay healthy, but otherwise the rest of the key pieces remain the same from last season -- at least among established NHL players.

Florida has one of the best collections of prospects in the NHL, and the next season or two will be defined by how Tallon and Dineen assimilate a wave of young talent that could make the Panthers contenders for the Stanley Cup for several seasons.

Defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov have already arrived in South Florida, and Jonathan Huberdeau is almost certain to join them this season. How many other prospects join the club and when will be worth monitoring.

The Panthers sped up their timetable for being contenders with a surprising 2011-12 season. Now they must prove it wasn't a fluke. Regardless, the young talent could make the Panthers better this season even if some of the regulars from last season fall off, and they could make Florida a lot better in forthcoming campaigns.


Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg

Peter Mueller - Jonathan Huberdeau - Scottie Upshall

Sean Bergenheim - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky

Shawn Matthias - Jerrod Smithson - George Parros

Mike Santorelli - Jack Skille


Brian Campbell - Erik Gudbranson

Dmitry Kulikov - Filip Kuba

Ed Jovanovski - Mike Weaver

Keaton Ellerby


Jose Theodore

Scott Clemmensen

NOTES: While the top line of Fleischmann, Weiss and Versteeg faded in the second half of last season, there's little reason to think they won't start this campaign together unless Dineen wants to help Huberdeau out early in his rookie season. Upshall is far from a lock as a top-six guy, so if one of the team's other tantalizing forward prospects (Quinton Howden, Drew Shore, etc.) is ready, he could be pushed down the lineup. There are plenty of bottom-six type guys on guaranteed contracts, so don't expect one of the kids to stick with the big club if not as a second-line forward.

Kuba makes a lot of sense as a replacement for Jason Garrison, but like Upshall, Ed Jovanovski's grasp on a key role could be fleeting. Colby Robak and Alex Petrovic might not be far off, and there aren't a lot of options to sit among the defense corps after maybe Ellerby (who is also still young enough to improve and earn a regular top-six spot). Those extra years on contracts last summer for Upshall, Jovanovski and Tomas Kopecky could make for some awkward transitions and expensive healthy scratches in the near future.

Then there is the goaltending situation, which might be the most intriguing part of Florida's plan to integrate the kids. If Jacob Markstrom isn't ready for at least part-time NHL duty, he's really, really close. Theodore has one year left on his contract, so maybe that is a natural sucession. There's also a certain ex-Panthers goaltender currently on a roster in the Pacific Northwest with 10 years left on his contract who would really make things interesting.

If anything, last season will help Tallon and Dineen not feel the need to rush the kids because the new players performed so well. They are coming though, and fitting everyone, young and old, together will be the challenge.

Follow Corey Masisak on Twitter: @cmasisak22

Author: Corey Masisak | NHL.com Staff Writer




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01

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