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Well, the bad thing about the 2013 Florida Panthers season is that they finished dead last in goals for and goals against.
The good news is that the only way from here is up. It may sound cliche, but the Florida Panthers did qualify for the playoffs in 2012, winning their division in the process.
Although it will be more difficult to qualify for the playoffs in 2013-14 with the division realignment throwing the Panthers into the Northeast division with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings, the fact of the matter is that Florida has $18.2 million in cap space, per CapGeek, along with some of its own free agents to re-sign.
The Panthers need to re-sign either Jose Theodore or Jacob Markstrom. The likely choice, Markstrom, will cost more than the bargain choice of Theodore.
The good news is that the Panthers have four restricted free agents, meaning that they don't have to give them astronomical increases to get them to stick around.
Shawn Matthias and Peter Mueller will likely merit raises with 21 and 17 points a piece in this shortened season. But the Panthers will likely stick with status quo paydays for Bobby Butler and Jack Skille.
After that, the shallow free agency that exists currently is completely available to the Panthers. Although it is hard to get players to come to Florida, GM Dale Tallon knows what it takes to bring top-tier players to Florida, as he did with Brian Campbell a few seasons ago.
Florida needs some quality offensive players and that would take a substantial strain off of its defense and goaltending. If it can get at least two top-of-the-line top-six forwards, it could contend for a playoff spot next season, despite the long odds right now.
All stats courtesy of NHL.com or CapGeek.com, unless otherwise noted.
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