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Randy Moller: Good afternoon Florida! I’m Randy Moller your Play-by-Play guy and now host of Eye of the Panther. We’ll be bringing this show to you every week featuring new guests as well. I’m happy to announce that today’s guest is 1996 Cup finalist Scott Mellanby. Scott was a captain for the Panthers and scored the first goal in Florida franchise history. Glad to have you on the show Scott!
Scott Mellanby: It’s good to be here Randy!
Randy: While we’ll talk about news around the WHL our first segment will be on our hometown Florida Panthers. So let’s get right into it. The Panthers last year were bad. Missed the playoffs while nearly every player had an underwhelming season. What happened?
Scott: They had possibly one of the most talented teams in Panthers history and failed. There’s blame to go around. James Reimer underperformed, the team didn’t play as a team, coaching was lackluster and the GM wasn’t on top of his game.
Randy: It’s easy to blame it on the goalie though. If the coach and players in front couldn’t provide the support a goalie needs then that goalie will fail. Loungo on his last legs got this team into playoffs so Reimer definitely has the ability to do the same. A problem that is creeping around the Panthers is that the defense or defensive structure is lacking. It’ll be something to watch during this season to see if there are changes being made.
Scott: That transition actually started in the off-season. When Florida put it out there that Getzlaf and Barkov were available to be traded the FO had their mind set on finding another Top 4 Defenseman, maybe even a top pairing guy to compliment Aaron Ekblad. I think we see an aggressive off-season from Florida coming up looking to change the team for the better.
Randy: So we’ll probably see Getzlaf traded then?
Scott: 100% yes. All there is to watch for is if it’s done during the season or in the off-season. And I’m sure he won’t be the only forward headed out as well as the FO wants to bring Laberge and Crouse into the line-up at some point.
Randy: That’s it for our first segment. After this break we’ll be back for segment number two.
Randy: Welcome back to Eye of the Panther radio show where we talk about all things Florida Panthers and WHL. With me is Panthers great Scott Mellanby. Every year there is craziness that happens in the league. Let’s talk about the craziness that happened this off-season.
Scott: There’s some face palm worthy stuff that happened this year. How about the just recent craziness involving Sidney Crosby? It all starts with the Sharks offering a bunch of magic beans. Then the offer leaks and that’s when the vultures start circling.
Randy: Reminded of when Iginla was traded from Calgary to Pittsburgh. Boston was claiming they had him and then they didn’t. In this case though it was Tampa Bay claiming victory and then came the news that Crosby was still a Penguin.
Scott: Some GM’s also went trade crazy in the off-season. How many times will you see both Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty end up being traded? Even starting goalies Halak and Bobrovsky were moved as well.
Randy: There’s a good reason those players were moved though. In the case of Karlsson, Doughty and Bobrovsky they will be UFA’s at the end of the season. In fact this coming off-season could have the best class of free agents we’ve seen in forever. Of course it’s the start of the season so who knows who will be there at the end. However these players wanting big raises could force teams to let them go in the end.
Scott: It’s definitely something you’ll want to keep an eye on. You’ll also want to keep an eye on teams looking to shed cap in order to add an 8-9M contract. There could be some teams looking to shed average contracts that belong to quality players.
Randy: Should open up the trade market as we hit December. So that’s it for segment number two. We’ll be back with segment number three in a few.
Randy: Last segment of Eye of the Panther, here we go!
Scott: An aspect of the WHL that always fascinates me is which directions teams are trending. Once again we see the Hurricanes and Sharks at the bottom. How long do they intend on being there? It’s been four seasons, I’m sure the fans right now are saying “do something already! Your beer sucks and so does the team.”
Randy: You have to give some respect for Toronto though who are trying to be competitive. After years at the bottom they pulled up their big boy pants and brought in Drew Doughty. They realized that they will probably never have a defenseman of his stature on the team so they brought one in using their young talent. It makes sense. Do the Sharks and Hurricanes intend on icing a team made up of ELC’s all the while assuming they’ll reach their full potential?
Scott: That’s the GM dream isn’t it? A team loaded with young star players on their ELC’s or 2nd contracts able to pick up expiring contracts for cheap. Who knows how long you’ll be waiting for these players to reach their prime. Plus there’s the ever present issue of goaltending. We’ll see what direction these two teams take when we get to the off-season.
Randy: We have a fun season ahead regardless. There will be a lot more to talk about as when we hit the end of November.