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Over/Under: Grading ESPN Point Projections for Florida Panthers D



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Florida Panthers defenseman Gus Forsling celebrates his goal with Anton Lundell, Eetu Luostarinen and Matthew Tkachuk during the second period of Game 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 4 at Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire)

The Florida Panthers are just over a week from reporting to training camp and ESPN recently came out with point predictions for most players in the NHL.

Last week, we looked at how ESPN thinks what kind of numbers Florida’s forwards will put up; today, we look at the Panthers’ defensemen.

While ESPN did not break down every d-man on the team — Josh Mahura and Niko Mikkola were left off, for instance — most of whom Florida will count on this season were included.

How did ESPN do?

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Well, aside from Aaron Ekblad, it does not look like injuries are taken into consideration — either that, or they think Brandon Montour will be out there on Day 1.

Which he will not.

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The Panthers are aiming for a December return for both Ekblad and Montour after both had shoulder surgeries following the Stanley Cup Final.

Montour is believed to be on track to return as early as November, however; Ekblad may be out until January.

Anyway, to the Over/Under:

Aaron Ekblad

Projection: 11 goals, 31 points (60 games played)

FHN’s Prognosis: Under

IF Ekblad is able to return from his injury by Dec. 1, he would miss 23 games allowing him to play 59 games. For a 60-game season, we think Ekblad would go over his point total but do not think he will play that many games. When he does return, does he go back to getting power play time? If the answer is yes, his numbers will be close to his averages at least when pro-rated.

Brandon Montour

Projection: 16 goals, 75 points (81 games played)

FHN’s Prognosis: Under

Again, Montour is not going to play 81 games this season which his going to affect his points total. ESPN does have Montour actually eclipsing last year’s numbers — 16 goals, 73 points — which not only was a career-best but the most points put up by a d-man in franchise history. It was a fantastic year. If he was there all season, yeah, Montour could make a run at passing those numbers. When he does come back, he will be a big part of Florida’s offense regardless of when that is.

Gus Forsling

Projection: 12 goals, 39 points (81 games played)

FHN’s Prognosis: Over

With Ekblad and Montour out, Forsling is going to get a bigger opportunity to become part of the offensive rotation especially on power play where his numbers could soar. Either Forsling or Oliver Ekman-Larsson could run the top power play unit (we think Forsling gets first crack at it) and that could lead to an offensive explosion. Just look at what happened when Montour was put back there last season.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Projection: 3 goals, 24 points (56 games played)

FHN’s Prognosis: Over

OK, so, OEL has had it rough the past few years. We get it. He also only played 54 games last season — so to project he will play 56 is really undermining what the Panthers hope from the veteran defenseman this season. Just playing 70-something games — not to mention getting some power play time, even if it is on the second unit — is going to give him the opportunity to show he can still play. Both he and the Panthers are gambling that Ekman-Larsson can bring it and, well, it is not like this bar is especially high.

Dmitry Kulikov

Projection: 1 goal, 11 points (61 games played)

FHN’s Prognosis: Over

Kulikov is back with the Panthers after a little NHL sojourn and, while he is not expected to get 82 games this season, he could get more than 61. Regardless, the way this team is set up is conducive to points from the blueline and Kuli may just flourish the second time around with Florida. Thing is, what happens when Ekblad and Montour return to the rotation on a nightly basis? Kulikov may be one of the odd d-men out. He will need a strong start to stay in the mix.


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The defense should be Forsling-Ekblad, Kiersted/Mahura/Carlsson-Montour, and a combination of Kiersted/Mahura/Carlsson as the third pairing and see how much Kiersted, Carlsson, and Mahura can grow. Absolutely no reason to have resigned Carlsson if he wasn’t going to be on the parent club roster. Montour should end up being trade bait, because he’ll want a contract with term (5 to 8 years), and at his age and the price point that will come with that, he’ll be of more value as trade bait on deadline day rather than a salary cap burden long term. Allow Carlsson to play that role until… Read more »


AGREE – Why re-sign Carlsson if he’s not gonna play? Coach Q did not play him at all either… what did he do or not do to get buried in Charlotte like this. I think he has a lot of potential – and in order to make a run at a Cup, we HAVE to have young guys on cheap deals be allowed to play and make an impact, instead of aging vets who are dead weight and/or a liability. This has always been the Panthers downfall and I was hoping Zito would correct that but it appears with the… Read more »


Why was signed….one word guys….depth. the injuries to Ek and Montour show how important it is to have depth, especially at that position And as far as signing older guys, it breeds competition, plain and simple. The best guys will play. Thats why, with the exception of Mikola, all were one year deals, if the team isnt happy with what they’ve getting out of the new guys, then once our injured players get back they can simple release them and its not a cap burden. We couldnt really sign a big name guy because we still have to account for… Read more »


You clearly don’t know how the NHL works. They can’t simply release players in the middle of the season and have that money not count against the cap. They can’t bury contracts in Charlotte because they’re limited to 5 veteran contracts and already have that many. So players like Carlsson and Kiersted have zero chance of making the NHL team, and most likely will be lost when they’re waived before the season starts. We had about $10 million before trading Duclair away, and then almost $12 million once he was shipped out for a bag of pucks and a 5th… Read more »


Never said it wouldnt count against the cap, Never even said anything close to that. bud, i simple said they’re only on the hook for one year. That’s why I said it was so important. They only gave out 1 year deals to these guys. Not sure what you’re not understanding about that.


The length of the deals doesn’t matter. The physical contracts blocks younger players from playing.


Contract length doesn’t matter. There’s no competition. They are blocking the progression of younger players with more potential.


And your numbers of what we had are not even close. It’s like your poem stuff at a thin air. They had no were close to 10 million to spin. Read some of George’s article before spewing out non sense.


According to your God, George Richards, they had $11.3 million going into free agency before trading Duclair. Again, you do NOT know what you’re talking about.,into%20the%202023%2D24%20season.


You should try reading George’s website, because he has an article I can’t link, saying they had $11 million to spend, before Duclair was traded. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Ever.


I will say this, you could not have chosen a better user name, you have absolutely nailed the whole Boston thing.

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