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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.

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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 - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

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