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
Owen Tippett (21). (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images) /

1. Can Grigori Denisenko and Owen Tippett make the roster?

The Florida Panthers are most likely going to have at least Owen Tippett garnering top-six minutes. Tippett was a First-Round Draft pick in 2017 and has shown some promise at the NHL level, including getting his first-ever goal during his seven-game stint a few years ago. He also scored two goals during the recent intrasquad scrimmage this week. Tippett first burst onto the scene with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL, scoring over 70 points in 2016-17. He continued to put up big-time numbers in Mississauga and with the Saginaw Spirit during his OHL tenure. He moved on to the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL and had a productive season.

In 2019-20 he scored 19 goals and tallied 21 assists for 40 points in 46 games. He has good speed and a nice scoring touch. The nice thing about Tippett is that he can be dangerous anywhere when in the offensive zone. As for Grigori Denisenko, he has good skating ability, and he can also put the puck in the net. He has played in the KHL for the last few seasons with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Just last season, he played in 38 games and scored six goals and six assists for 12 points.

He hasn’t put up huge numbers as a KHL regular, but him playing in that league is a huge accomplishment for an 18-to-19-year-old. Those numbers are usually pretty good in my mind for a youngster playing in the second-best hockey league in the world. Since gaining a good amount of experience in a situation that is extremely challenging, you would expect him to get better. It is possible that Denisenko could not even make the lineup come opening night, but if he does, he could contribute a bit to the offense. He is still slowly developing his game, but there is no doubt he should get some playing time this season. You would see him most likely on the third line, and Tippett could be on the second line playing with Alexander Wennberg and Frank Vatrano or Patric Hornqvist.

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The Florida Panthers have tons of veterans around them, so I wouldn’t expect them to crumble under pressure in the NHL. It’s possible that they can find their footing and help keep the offense at a steady pace.