|Stephen Weiss (AP)|
The Florida Panthers have a decade's worth of high draft picks to put together what you would think is an elite roster. Well, that's what you'd think.
This was the Panthers' top line as recently as two seasons ago but Weiss is the only player that remains in Florida. Dubbed the Sawgrass Express in one of the worst line names in hockey, it was just an OK top line when they were together and considering the injuries/issues that Horton and Booth have dealt with since leaving you wonder if it would be any better at this point.
This should be the point where you make some audible groans. We're moving Huberdeau to the middle -- he is capable of playing center or on the wings -- and he will be counted on heavily as a rookie. He has a very bright future but Huselius and Frolik wouldn't appear to be the same. Really, the other options aren't much better for Florida.
On the wings, Campbell and Stewart have at least proven to be solid bottom-liners in the NHL to this point. Stewart has shown a little offensive ability with 14 goals two seasons ago in Atlanta and Campbell is tough as nails, excelling with the Bruins. Olesz in the middle, though? Unfortunately he's best known for being the salary dump in the Brian Campbell trade in real life and has been stuck in the AHL.
Forward scratch: Tanner Glass
I'm going with Glass over a guy like Radek Dvorak here based mostly on age. The ninth-round pick in 2003, Glass has been playing plenty the last three seasons with the Canucks and Jets. He can certainly fill in on the left side.
Bouwmeester was really flourishing and starting to show his potential in his final few seasons in Florida but wanted out and has since seen his numbers drop. But he's still a capable defenseman. Kuba actually is back in Florida now, maybe he would be able to reignite some of that offense for Bouwmeester.
A pair of former first-round picks for the Panthers, just 15 years apart. With Jovanovski back in Florida last season, these two did play a little bit together. Jovanovski is certainly at the back end of his career but Kulikov is still growing and his production continues to steadily rise.
Defensive scratch: Erik Gudbranson
Florida's top pick and No. 3 overall two years ago, Gudbranson had a solid rookie season for Florida and is already as physical as they come. His game is only on the way up. He beats out names like Keaton Ellerby and Jaroslav Spacek. Florida does have some defensive depth, at least, albeit not the greatest.
Alright, so not a lot of proven talent here. The real-life Panthers aren't ready to turn the keys over to Markstrom but we have little choice. There's no doubt he has the potential but we'll have to wait and see if/when he realizes it. Auld as the backup isn't ideal but at least he does have experience in the NHL.