1. What's the goal for this Panthers team this year? Playoffs? More than that?
Last year was all about improvement, and with a 25-point increase in the standings, we got that in spades. This season, the expectation from those within and close to the franchise is a playoff berth. Now, that's not exactly the sentiment from the North American hockey media at large, but the feeling around the club is that it's ready to take the next step.
More than that, for a team that's only made the postseason four times in its entire existence, seems a little greedy, but if the Cats do slip in, they won't be an easy out in the opening round, so you never know.
2. Can the Panthers score? They were pretty bad at putting the puck in the net a year ago.
As bad they were last season, and pretty much forever, the pieces are in place for a much stronger attack this season. Brandon Pirri scored 22 goals in just 49 games in 2014-15, and if he plays a full complement of games, he should give Florida its first 30-goal man since 2008-09. Nick Bjugstad led the Cats with 24, an 8-goal improvement from his rookie season. Look for his numbers to bump up again this season.
And then there is the Jagr effect. How much can Florida's top line produce with talented youngsters Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov getting a full 82 with the ageless Jaromir Jagr riding shotgun? If the final 21 games of last season are any indication, it could be quite a lot.The Panthers with Jagr in the lineup were much more of a force to be reckoned with. Those are the guys you'd expect to score for the Panthers.
What will make the offense noticeably better is there are younger, faster, more offensive-minded players, like Vincent Trocheck, Rocco Grimaldi, Connor Brickley and Quinton Howden breaking into bottom-six roles, giving the team the potential for much more offensive depth.
3. What is your favorite thing about Jaromir Jagr? And can we have him back?
My favorite thing about Jagr is the guy is simply living the dream. He's 43-years-old, still playing in the NHL at a high level and getting paid millions. Totally unapologetic about recently getting caught in bed with a beautiful young model (as he should be) and talking about growing back "the mullet."
What I wouldn't give to live life in his shoes for a week. Can you have him back? ... ah, no.