Thursday, September 30, 2021

Greg Wyshynski, ES... ...PN (Special)

Listen to "Greg Wyshynski, ESPN (SPECIAL)" on Spreaker.

 Greg Wyshynski, formerly of Puck Daddy on Yahoo, now on ESPN and the Puck Soup podcast, is our guest for the episode.

Alex, Jacob, and TJ discuss with Greg;

- ESPN's re-acquisition of NHL TV rights
- Spencer Knight, the great white hope
- How far guys named Sam can take the Panthers
- Some of the quintessential "Florida Panthers" stories through the years
- What Greg is watching on TV

You can find Greg's work on as well as on the Puck Soup podcast and Patreon. Follow him @Wyshynski on twitter but you probably already do, so...

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Making the Band: Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers take on the Nashville Predators in a preseason game on September 26, 2021.

Bill Zito’s stellar work in his first two seasons as general manager of the Florida Panthers has presented Joel Quenneville with a number of problems, but these are the kind of problems that any NHL coach would welcome. Despite external worries about the Panthers’ strength in depth, voices in the Roger Nielson Memorial Press Box speculate whether the Panthers have ever had a more difficult lineup to crack for up and coming players.

With lineup spots at a premium, competition for those spots intensifies as training camp gets underway. New faces such as Joe Thornton and (one-time Panthers prospect) Maxim Mamin will get a chance to show the coaching staff what they’re capable of. Established players who had a hand in Florida’s 2021 success, Juho Lammikko and Ryan Lomberg among them, have a steeper standard to reach in order to regularly crack the lineup. Simultaneously, prospects like Anton Lundell and Grigori Denisenko are eager to prove they’re the finished product, ready to fulfill all their potential.

Joel Quenneville has not been one to sit on his laurels when something isn’t clicking. That will grant many of these names the opportunity to play in a Panther uniform in 2021-22. Still, many of these players will find themselves at a significant disadvantage without a platform to demonstrate their capability to perform at the NHL level. 


What should be made of Anton Lundell’s absence from Panthers training camp? While the young Finn has been lights out in Liiga, World Juniors, and even the IIHF World Championships, he doesn’t have as much experience on North American ice as his rivals for roster spots. There is optimism in the air that Lundell will be an everyday player in Florida, but his spot shouldn’t be taken for granted. Without a full training camp, his chances diminish even further. More on this to come in a future post. 

Quenneville rolled out what could be Florida’s bottom 6 forward lines in Thursday’s practice; Joe Thornton centered Mason Marchment and Anthony Duclair on a would-be third line, while Noel Acciari skated down the middle with Frank Vatrano and Patrik Hörnqvist on a possible fourth line. 

This leaves the aforementioned Denisenko and Mamin on the outside looking in, along with Finns Aleksi Hepomiemi, Eetu Luostarinen, and Juho Lammikko, who were skating on other lines on day 1 of camp. Luostarinen stepped into Joe Thornton’s spot with Marchment and Vatrano when the 42-year old was not available for Sunday’s pre-season opening doubleheader. Does this make him Quenneville’s “next man up”, giving him an edge on a roster spot when the Panthers cut their group down to twenty-three players? More on this to come yada, yada, yada. 


On defense, it seems pretty evident who Florida’s first choices will be to round out their top six. The Panthers have six blue-liners under contract for above two-and-a-half million dollars next year, with only Markus Nutivaara among them seeing his contract expiring at the end of the year. The other five in the group, including the returning Aaron Ekblad, Norris contender Mackenzie Weegar, recently extended Gustav Forsling, trade acquisition Brandon Montour, and first year Zito acquisition Radko Gudas, will surely factor into the opening night Panthers lineup if all are healthy. What happens beneath them is where intrigue creeps in. 

2021 Waiver claim Noah Juulsen slid in next to Markus Nutivaara on Sunday as Florida opened up their preseason slate, with Radko Gudas missing out with a slight injury. Juulsen has the distinct handedness advantage over some of his would-be blue line competitors if a rightie like Gudas were to exit the lineup with injury. Other defenders on the fringes like Kevin Connauton, Max Gildon, John Ludvig, and Matt Kiersted are all left-handed, while Juulsen is right-handed.

On the other hand, if a leftie were to come out of the lineup, it does seem that 23 year-old Matt Kiersted would be next in line to slot in for Florida on that side of defense. Kiersted was paired with Kevin Connauton on Sunday, who played on his off-side. John Ludvig missed out via injury, while Max Gildon was used in a third-pairing role in the first of two split-squad games vs Nashville. Ludvig, the youngest of the group at age 21, is most likely to be seasoned with playing time in the AHL with Charlotte. 


The Panthers’ presumed first-choice goaltending tandem of Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight was all but confirmed by remarks from Quenneville and the performance of Knight in his preseason outing, juxtaposed with Samuel Montembeault’s less impressive showing earlier in the day. Offseason signing Christopher Gibson did not play at all but seemed to be healthy enough to back up Knight in the second game. Gibson and Montembeault should split games in Charlotte this year, with Monty getting the first call up should a Panther goalie go down injured. Of course, Chris Driedger started as the #4 goalie for the Panthers in 2019-20, and we all know how that went for him, so Gibson might still get a chance to prove himself in the NHL.

Estimated Florida Panthers Depth Chart - 2021-22 Season

Based on lineups used in training camp & preseason

Left Wing


Right Wing

Jonathan Huberdeau

Aleksander Barkov

Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe

Sam Bennett

Anthony Duclair

Mason Marchment

Joe Thornton

Owen Tippett

Frank Vatrano

Noel Acciari

Patric Hörnqvist

Maxim Mamin

Anton Lundell

Grigori Denisenko

Ryan Lomberg

Eetu Luostarinen

Aleksi Heponiemi

Logan Hutsko

Juho Lammikko

Serron Noel

Henry Bowlby

Zac Dalpe

Cole Schwindt

Left Defense

Right Defense


Mackenzie Weegar

Aaron Ekblad

Sergei Bobrovsky

Gustav Forsling

Brandon Montour

Spencer Knight

Markus Nutivaara

Radko Gudas

Samuel Montembeault

Matt Kiersted

Noah Juulsen

Christopher Gibson

Max Gildon

Kevin Connauton (LHD)

Evan Fitzpatrick (no contract)

John Ludvig

Lucas Carlsson (LHD)

Braden Haché (OHL)

Chase Priskie

Two-Headed Preseason Monstrosity, Dissected - Episode 43

It's alive! I'm of course referring to the Panthers 21-22 season, which got underway on Sunday with their preseason debut. We talk about what went down in the pair of games and where things stand with the roster battles at the fringes of the Cats roster.