Sheldon Souray


Part two in a seven-part review takes a look at the teams that failed to reach the postseason and what kind of impact each of them will have on your keeper-league squad. This week, we take a look at Florida and Montreal.


Florida Panthers
Possibly on the way out…
The Panthers signed pending UFA Ville Peltonen, so he will be going nowhere. His play picked up as the season wore on and looks like a fine candidate to breach the 50-point barrier next season. The Panthers may try to sign Martin Gelinas back, but Jozef Stumpel will likely be allowed to walk. Goaltender Ed Belfour is another potential free agent who will likely not return.

The team will be looking to add…
A point was driven home last season – they need elite goaltending. In an attempt to blunt the loss of Roberto Luongo, the Panthers will likely try to pick up a top netminder.  Florida also needs a stay-at-home defenseman and an upper-tier sniper. The team was 2-8 in the shootout, a number that would put them in the playoffs if it were reversed. Undrafted Cory Murphy was signed after putting up over a point per game in the Finnish League. He is already showing what he can do with NHL-caliber players while playing for Team Canada at the Worlds. Look for him to step in as part of the top power play pairing with Jay Bouwmeester.

General fantasy outlook…
Florida finished 13th in offense. The young team will be better in that category with another year of experience under their belts. Stephen Weiss, coming off a 48-point effort in his first relatively injury-free season, will take on a much larger role. Tallying 65 points is not a big stretch for the 24-year-old. Rostislav Olesz will continue his steady progress, taking on more and more responsibility. Nathan Horton is another youngster who will increase production. It is possible the Panthers will be a top-10 team in offense next season. With a top goaltender they will improve on the fact that they were 22nd in team defense.

Montreal Canadiens

Possibly on the way out…
A slew of players are ready for unrestricted free agency, including Radek Bonk, Mike Johnson, Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov and David Aebischer. Throw in the fact that the Habs are considering buying out the contracts of Alexei Kovalev and Sergei Samsonov and this team will have a completely different look in the fall. Alexander Perezhogin is also considering a move back to Russia, although his agent denies the rumors. Having the No.1 power play in the NHL will ensure that the team will do everything they can to bring back both Souray and Markov, while Johnson is also very interested in staying. Aebischer is gone. Montreal is quite happy with a Cristobal Huet-Jaroslav Halak tandem.

The team will be looking to add…

If they are unable to sign both Souray and Markov, they will definitely be on the hunt to replace those players. They are also desperate for size both up front and on the blue line. There are several decent power forwards that will be on the market this year, including Ryan Smyth, Brendan Shanahan, Todd Bertuzzi, Dainius Zubrus, Keith Tkachuk, Scott Walker, Scott Hartnell and Owen Nolan.

General fantasy outlook…
If the team can’t retain (or replace) the services of both their fine rearguards, their offensive numbers will most assuredly drop. One player’s numbers who will not drop is Andrei Kostitsyn. The youngster was on fire in his final recall with the team, tallying eight points in his last 12 games and looking very good doing it. He is looking at a big season on Montreal’s second line. Don’t be shocked if he garners 60 points in his first full campaign.

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