Detroit Red Wings: Predicting how the Atlantic Division will Shape Up

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Florida Panthers
(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Florida Panthers: 4th

The Panthers have an exciting club.  Newly appointed captain Aleksander Barkov is a dynamic number one center in this league that not everyone has heard of.

Key PLayers:

Barkov is one of the most underrated NHL players in the league.

The Florida Panthers have the luxury to roll out Vincent Trocheck out as their second center.  A very nice, dynamic, exciting one-two punch for the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers added Mike Hoffman who is a top six forward.  Expect Hoffman to have a career year in the goal scoring department this season.  Hoffman will be playing with the best group of forwards in his career.

Jonathan Huberdeau is set to start on the wing but can play some center if needed.  This core of forwards will make the other around them elevate their games.   Evgeni Dadonov, Nick Bjugstad will both benefit tremendously being sprinkled in on lines with the previous four forwards mentioned.

Aaron Ekbad and Keith Yandle serve as the top defenders for the club.  Ekbad is one of the better defenders across the NHL.  Yandle is a nice compliment, but the defense group is a weakness for the Panthers.  Mike Matheson is solid.  The Panthers will lean on those three; all will play 23 plus minutes a night.

Future Stars;

Barkov recorded 27 goals and totaled 78 points last season for the Panthers.  Expect those numbers to continue to rise over the coming years.

Trocheck was a third-round pick in 2011.  What a bargain he has become.  Last season Vinny recorded 31 goals and added 44 helpers to total 75 points.

They are not precisely “future stars” they have become shining stars.  Mix in Aaron Ekblad on the back-end and Mike Hoffman this is a playoff team that if they add a piece or two has the potential to make some playoff noise.

The Ugly:

An aging Roberto Luongo in-goal is a bit concerning.  The Panthers also have James Reimer and signed Michael Hutchinson this summer.  Luongo is under contract until 2022 at a steep price for his age.  Bobby Lou makes 5.3 per season.