One on One with Panthers GM Brock Otten
With the 2007 HFNHL entry draft days away, the deadline for resigning free agents inching closer and the offseason nearly in full swing, we've decided to sit down with Florida Panthers General Manager Brock Otten.
Esteban Santour: "Hello Brock, thanks very much for taking time out of your day to chat with us."
Brock Otten: "Anything for the loyal Florida Post Esteban. We at front office really appreciate your HFNHL coverage."
ES: "Let us start off with the season which was just completed. The Florida Panthers were a major disappointment. What happened?"
BO: "After the strides made during the 2005-06 season, it is definitely suffice to say that 2006-07 was a disappointment. Things just never came together for us. We didn't get consistent goaltending. Some of our veteran offseason acquisitions like John Leclair and Jason Smith just didn't work out. We took a major step in the wrong direction."
ES: "Can any positives possibly be taken out of the 2006-07 season?"
BO: "You mean like a top draft pick (laughs). In seriousness, I think we can take some positives out of this year. We got some good contributions from youngsters. Rookie Marek Svatos lead all rookies in goals scored. Centers Mike Richards and Brad Richardson showed great two way play. Defenseman Brent Burns established himself as a solid, maturing blueliner. It wasn't the young guys that held us back this year. It was the play of our veterans."
ES: "So how can the problems be corrected for next year?"
BO: "For starters, we need our veteran players to play better. We'll also need better goaltending. We at the front office are going to work hard this offseason to add a couple more talented players to fill the holes and get this team into the playoffs."
ES: "You've mentioned goaltending as a problem. Is Ray Emery your starter for next year?"
BO: "Ray showed some promise this year. He's got to work on some things and he's still a little raw, but we have faith in him as a future starting goaltender. We just resigned him to a new contract and he's more man for next year. We feel he'll have a real breakout season in 2007-08."
ES: "How big was the resigning of winger Shane Doan for this organization?"
BO: "It was massive. Shane is the captain and heart and soul of this team. We gave up a lot to acquire him last season and he's going to be a Panther for a long time. We hope to surround him with a few more offensive weapons for next season. That was part of the promise we made to him that sealed the deal on his return to the Sunshine state."
ES: "The entry draft is coming this Sunday. The Panthers have the first overall selection. Their have been some rumours suggesting that you are shopping the pick. Are these rumours credible?"
BO: "What I will say is that we are exploring our options. Their are a couple of players that we really like at the top end of the draft. But I will say that what happens with the first overall pick will probably be unknown right up until the clock starts at 10am ET on Sunday."
ES: "The Panthers currently hold 6 4th round draft picks. Any reason as to why you hold a fifth of the round?"
BO: "That answer is simple. Look at our draft history going all the way back to 2003. Our scouts have done an unbelievable job of finding players in the 4th and 5th rounds. A 4th or 5th round draft pick is an excellent asset to have. We may try to use one or two of those 4ths to climb up a little higher, though."
ES: "Going into free agency, what is your main target?"
BO: "I think our main target may have to be a top line centerman. We need someone to feed the puck to Shane Doan. Our next priority may be a solid number 2 or 3 defenseman, as well as a secondary scoring option on the wing. We will be a busy team come UFA season."
ES: "I just wanted to say that even though you have taken a lot of flack for the poor season the Panthers put up, we here in Florida still believe in your vision for the franchise. We have a lot of faith in your abilities to get this team into the playoffs next season. Thanks a lot for sitting down with us and I'm sure the fans here in Florida really enjoyed hearing some of these things."
BO: "I very much appreciate the kind words Esteban. Keep up the good work and the good coverage."
Wow. Total homer coverage. Talk about an easy ride! :sarcasm:
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