In my new Means to Be Successful series I will look at 17 players who undoubtedly will be on the Panthers opening night roster and what they need to do to have a successful season. The order I did it is completely random. Let’s get started with Part 2. Part 1 is down below:
Jonathan Huberdeau (Winger)
Photo Credit: https://www.nhl.com/news/anaheim-ducks-florida-panthers-game-recap/c-286422284
Role: 1st Line Winger
Stats From Last Year: 31 Games; 10 Goals; 16 Assists; 26 Assists (No Career Rankings cause he played less than 45 games)
Career Stats: 303 GP; 68 G; 130 A; 198 PTS
Contract: 1st year of a 6 year deal worth $5.9M AAV
Cash Per Point from 2015-16 (Injury shortened last year): ($3.25M) $55,084.75
After an Achillies Injury stopped him from suiting up for 4 months, Huberdeau returned in February with a vengeance as he lit up the scoresheet. Despite playing less than half the season, Huberdeau finished 9th on the team in points and he wasn’t 100%. Look for a healthy Huberdeau and linemate Sasha Barkov to lead the team next year.
Season Expectations for 75+ GP: 23 Goals; 40 Assists; 63 Points
Chance to Make It: 71%. Huberdeau and Barkov should continue to tear up the scoresheet and with a contract signed before the start of camp and assuming no setbacks (DO NOT PLAY HIM AT ALL IN PRESEASON), Huberdeau will meet expectations.
Nick Bjugstad (Center)
Photo Credit To: http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/best-of/2015/sports-and-recreation/best-panthers-player-7041097
Role: 3rd Line Center
Stats From Last Year: 54 GP (4th); 7 G (4th); 7 A (4th); 14 PTS (4th)
Career Stats: 280 GP; 63 G; 67 A; 130 PTS
Contract: 3rd year of a 6 year $4.1M AAV
Cash Per Point: $292,857.14
Bad Luck. The story of Nick Bjugstad for the past two years. Bjugstad has suffered injury after injury and once it seems like he is back to the player he once was, injuries strike again. With his $4.1M cap hit, time for Bjugstad is running out. If he fails due to injuries, he will be let go as an injury hampered player who can’t get past his struggles. If he just struggles without injuries, his good seasons will be noted as flashes. If he does well then he will stay in the lineup. This next year is the most important in Rotisserie Chicken’s career and he better deliver.
Stats He Should Get if he Plays 75+ GP: 20Goals; 21 Assists; 41 Points
Probability to Make It: 41%. Bjugstad has to be healthy. However if he somehow goes unscathed he will meet these expectations. Otherwise if he suffers an injury forget about these expectations.
Aaron Ekblad (Defenseman)
Photo Credit: http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/please-panthers-don-t-turn-aaron-ekblad-into-eric-lindros
Role: #1 Defenseman
Stats From Last Year: 68 GP (3rd); 10 G (3rd); 11 A (3rd); 21 PTS (3rd)
Career Stats: 227 Games; 37 Goals; 59 Assists; 96 Points
Contract: 1st year of a 8 year $7.5M AAV deal
Cash Per Point: ($925,000) $44,047.62
Aaron Ekblad is another player whose career hinges on this season. After going through numerous head injuries, this is his year to prove he can be the player that he was projected to. To do this, he must not suffer any concussions. If he can and he gets a consistent solid partner watch out.
Expectations for 75+ GP: 19 Goals; 22 Assists; 41 Points
Probability: 100%. I am fully confident Aaron will meet these expectations providing solid usage on the ice and minimal injuries.