Florida enters season expecting a playoff berth
LAST SEASON: 44-30-8, 96 points. Fourth in Atlantic Division.
COACH: Bob Boughner (second season, second NHL season).
ADDED: LW Mike Hoffman, RW Troy Brouwer.
LOST: C Connor Brickley, RW Radim Vrbata.
PLAYER TO WATCH: C Aleksander Barkov. He’s coming off a career-best 78-point year, is now the team’s captain and is simply electric in shootouts — with 16 scores in 22 attempts over the last three seasons. Barkov just turned 23, and Florida sees him as its cornerstone for years to come.
OUTLOOK: It’s playoffs-or-bust for the Panthers, who have been saying for years that they have a young and promising core. It’s time to deliver on that promise.
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