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Way-too-early look at the Florida Panthers 2022-23 lineup

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Florida panthers
With a number of players leaving in free agency, the Florida Panthers will look a little different when they open the 2022-23 NHL season as opposed to the end of the 2021-22 campaign. — Roger Lee Photographer (561) 866-2000

Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito said during his press conference on the first day of NHL free agency on Wednesday that his team’s “best players are going to play.”

So, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau are probably safe.

As for how the rest of the Panthers’ lineup will look Oct. 13 on Long Island against the New York Islanders is, right now, a big mystery.

There is about three months between now and then and much can still change.

Florida, even with Anthony Duclair’s $3 million contract coming off the salary cap due to his Achilles tendon surgey, is still over the ceiling.

A move or two (one of which could be substantial, perhaps Patric Hornqvist) is expected between now and training camp — or at least by the time the season starts and the salary cap is enforced.

The Panthers added a number of players in the first few days of free agency and did not spend a lot of money in doing so.

Why? Because they did not have any.

That does not mean the Panthers did not help themselves. Florida has had a recent history of finding great value off players discarded from other organizations and hope that trend continues.

At the very least, this should be a very interesting training camp.

With the Panthers bringing in a lot of veteran players with minimal cap hits, that means young players who do not have to pass through waivers to get to Charlotte — Grigori Denisenko, Logan Hutsko, Serron Noel, etc. — will really have to turn some heads at training camp to earn a spot.

Before we get into how the Panthers may look like when they take the ice against the Islanders, here is a look at who they brought in and where they may fit in:

F Colin White, Ottawa Senators (1 year, $1.2m): White had an eventful week as a few days after the Sens bought out the final three years of his contract, he signed with the Panthers looking for a fresh start. White, if healthy, gives the Panthers a lot of bang for a few bucks as he can play up-and-down the lineup and at various positions.

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