Florida Panthers make wholesale changes

No NHL club has undergone nearly as dramatic a transformation as the Florida Panthers, who have acquired 10 NHL regulars in recent weeks. Here's a recap of which new Panthers will try and make the sun rise on the long suffering club's playoff hopes.

Florida general manager Dale Tallon and his staff have added a whopping 10 NHL regulars since the end of the season.

Cynics suggest that Tallon wouldn't have made many of these moves if it weren't for Florida's need to spend up to the salary cap floor of $48 million US.

Indeed, several of the signings come up with much risk. Tomas Fleischmann had a blood clot disorder last season, Sean Bergenheim was rewarded in no small part due to a playoff performance that could have been flukey, and veteran defenceman Ed Jovanovski showed some signs last season of being worn down from over 15 hard seasons in the NHL.

The goalie tandem of Jose Theodore and Scott Clemmensen, meanwhile, isn't likely to make opposition shooters psyche themselves out.

No doubt, some hack hockey writer in September will trot out lame jokes about the new Panthers needing name tags and needing a media guide to get the players straight.

But some of the connections already established among the group of recent acquisitions.

Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky and Kris Versteeg all were part of Chicago's 2010 Stanley Cup team. The trio would be familiar with Jack Skille, who bounced from Chicago and the AHL in recent seasons before coming over to Florida late in the 2010-11 campaign.

Another trio that played together in another city consists of Theodore, Fleischmann and Matt Bradley. The goalie and two forwards were all members of the Washington Capitals together.

Ed Jovanovksi and Scottie Upshall have a solid understanding of each other on the ice, having played with the Coyotes for parts of three seasons.

Marcel Goc and Campbell were teammates for a brief time in 2007-08 when the latter player came over to the San Jose Sharks in a late season trade.

Goc was also briefly a teammate of returning Panthers forward Mike Santorelli during a 2009-10 season with Nashville.

This chemistry experiment will be conducted by new coach Kevin Dineen. The longtime NHLer is getting his first crack at a head coaching job in the league after five seasons learning in the American Hockey League.

Dineen's AHL teams were affiliates of Buffalo and Anaheim, not Florida, so he'll have some catching up to do. Dineen did coach forward Tim Kennedy — signed on a two-way deal this offseason — and Ryan Carter, traded last season from Carolina to Florida.

Dineen is also young enough to have played in the NHL against Jovanovski and Theodore.

It remains to be seen whether the Panthers are an improved team, or if this was a matter of re-arranging the deck chairs on a struggling vessel.

This group will try and help Florida to its first playoff berth since 1999-2000.