by PuckStopsHere on 03/27/13 at 12:49 AM ET
The last place team in the NHL is the Florida Panthers. They have only won nine of their 34 games to date. This gives them 25 losses. Six of those losses produced regulation tie points to give the team 24 points. They are the team with the worst goals against in the NHL. They are the third lowest scoring team in the NHL. They have allowed 39 more gals than they have scored. This means they lose by more than a goal in their average game so far this season.
Florida's poor season was quite predictable in the summer of 2011. They made a serious tactical mistake with their team. More than half of their roster was turned over with free agency. This forced them to spend significant amounts of money to fill out their roster. This money had to be spent whether or not there was any talent to spend it on because Florida had to reach the salary floor. It turned out the talent wasn't there but the money was spent nevertheless. In order to draw in players, Florida offered big money longterm contracts to players like Jose Theodore, Tomas Fleischmann, Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall. They traded for players who had contracts that were a burden to their current teams such as Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg. They overspent to reach the salary floor.
If you have one of the lowest paid teams in the NHL and you are forced to overpay your players to reach that level you have a bad team. That was their expectation. They defied it last year and even made the playoffs. They had the worst +/- of any team that made the playoffs and likely were lucky to have done as well as they did.
This season is much closer to expectation. Florida is bad. It doesn't help that Florida has had a lot of injuries this season. Although that should be the expectation for an aging team built by free agency. Jose Theodore, Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Mike Weaver, George Parros, Jack Skille and Ed Jovanovski are all on the injured list indefinitely and in many cases are out for the season.
The Florida Panthers are the last place team. Given the way they were built that shouldn't be a surprise. Florida is an example of how not to build a team. There isn't enough talent to build a team through free agency. This is especially true in a market that is not a prime market to attract free agents. Teams will be forced to overpay for their free agents. If the team is a salary floor team that overpaid for its talent it will be a very bad team. Florida is a bad team.
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