4 Big Questions for the Florida Panthers in 2020-21

The Florida Panthers. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
The Florida Panthers. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /
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Florida Panthers
Mike Hoffman (68). (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

2. How much will the departures of Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman hurt?

It is no secret that Evgenii Dadonov and Mike Hoffman were two of the Panthers’ biggest offensive weapons. Dadonov meshed very well with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on the top line for the three seasons in Florida. From 2017-18 to 2019-20, the Russian winger tacked on 81 goals and 101 assists for a total of 182 points. As for Hoffman, he totaled 65 goals and 64 assists in his two years with Florida. More importantly, they both revived a struggling power play unit that was at the bottom of the league in 2016-17, in which they ranked 24th.

With Hoffman in the lineup during his two years, Florida saw the power play skyrocket. In 2018-19, the Panthers ranked 2nd in the league for power play percentage, and the next season they ranked 10th. Hoffman was their “ace” on the power play with his useful and powerful slap shot. Dadonov was also useful when put on the power play. However, what is really important to note is that he helped Huberdeau and Barkov grow to an elite level since he first arrived.

Now since both are not there, how does the rest of the team respond? GM Bill Zito traded for Patric Hornqvist; however, he is now 34-years-old. He should still have some juice left in the tank; however, it can’t be expected that he will put up more than 20 goals this season – if he even reaches 20 in the first place. If I’m putting a prediction, I would say 15 goals at the maximum. Zito also just recently signed Anthony Duclair from Ottawa to a cheap contract. He will most likely fill in for Dadonov on the top line, but there is still a question for me here.

Was Duclair’s production last year just empty stats? I think it is a good question to ask considering how bad the Senators have been, especially last season. He scored just over 20 goals, which allowed him to be an All-Star, but that has to be speculated and is a consideration. Was that season him showing growth as an overall player?  We really don’t know how much worse the offense got here, but they still have Barkov and Huberdeau. I think that side of the puck will still be productive but not as lethal as it was before. The only other two candidates I can see who can pick up the slack involves two up and coming prospects.