The Panthers are a much different team than they were to start -- or end -- last season. Florida finished in last place in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history.
But with the rebuild comes a lot of excitement and anticipation for the 2011-12 Florida Panthers. The lower bowl of the arena will have sponsor adorned red seats, visiting fans apparently aren't welcomed anymore and life is peachy.
Believe me, I'm completely looking forward to this upcoming season and am anticipating them being a lot better. But this team still has holes and there are enough question marks that there is no way one could guarantee the Panthers will end their playoff drought this year. Will they be better? Yes. It would be hard for them to be worse. Are they a playoff team? I don't know.
The Hockey News is releasing some of their staff predicitions online this week, and they don't seem to be all that impressed with the Panthers. For all of Tallon and Santos' work, THN says that will be just a one position uptick in the standings.
If all goes according to TSN's plan -- which sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't -- the Senators will be the worst team in the east this year with the Panthers finishing 14th. Edmonton is predicted to return to its home at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with Phoenix not far behind.