SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – The NHL’s regular season is barely underway, but besides it being just a new season; the 2013-2014 season is a brand new era for the Florida Panthers.
New owner Vinnie Viola has been successful at everything he has done in his life and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be just as successful in the NHL and specifically here in South Florida.
Viola didn’t need to buy the Panthers franchise, he and his family wanted to and that means fans have an owner committed to winning and committed to the community.
Viola comes into a team that is full of young, but very talented players. Overall, the Panthers have arguably the best young group of players in the league and it’s all because of great execution during the draft.
In 2010, the Panthers selected Erik Gudbranson, in 2012, the team picked forward Jonathan Huberdeau third overall, and this year, the team picked Alexsander Barkov second overall in the draft.
Huberdeau has already picked up the rookie of the year honor for his performance last year and Barkov and Gudbranson are at least solid players and both could become stars.
The team also has a young, developing goalie in Jacob Markstrom.
Add in some veteran talent like Kris Versteeg and Brian Campbell and the team hopes to be in the playoffs this season.
But, clearly its a time of transition, a time of grooming these young players and eventually turning the team over to them.
There are also numerous other prospects playing in the minors and colleges who may contribute one day for the Cats.
Growing pains are expected, but the thought here is that the Panthers are on the right track for current and more importantly, sustained success.
One extra note, we are broadcasting 78 games this season on Fox Sports Florida. I hope you tune in!