Panthers mailbag: Bringing Jagr back next season a good option

Jaromir Jagr (left) wants to continue playing at 43 next season and the Panthers could be a good fit.

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Welcome back for another edition of the Florida Panthers mailbag where FOXSportsFlorida.com’s Jameson Olive answers all of your burning questions regarding the team’s past, present and future.

If you would like to submit a question, you can contact Jameson on Twitter @JamesonCoop or email him at JamesonOlive@gmail.com.

John, Boca Raton: Will Sam Brittain start a game in net for the Panthers this season?

OLIVE: As interesting as it would be to see the 22-year-old rookie make his NHL debut this season, it doesn’t look as though the Panthers will require his services. With Roberto Luongo likely to return next week and Dan Ellis answering the bell in back-to-back quality starts, the doom and gloom surrounding Florida’s goaltending situation has already died down significantly. Brittain’s time will come, but even he admitted that he first needs to take his lumps in the American Hockey League before earning a shot with the Panthers. In his first professional season, Brittain has posted a 14-11-1 record with a 2.71 goals-against average and .895 save percentage with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Coast Hockey League. As a former college standout at the University of Denver, Brittain will certainly be given every opportunity going forward as he enters the second year of his three-year entry-level deal.

@nhlmllfan: What is the likelihood that goaltender Roberto Luongo will start against the Winnipeg Jets on March 12?

OLIVE: As of right now, the Panthers are confident that Luongo will indeed be in between the pipes when Florida returns from its current four-day break to host the Jets. I’m also inclined to agree with that sentiment as Luongo has looked no worse for wear in the few locker room cameos he’s made since sustaining his shoulder injury. In fact, Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant went as far as to say that if the Panthers were in the midst of a playoff series that Luongo may have been able to play through it. He will be re-evaluated on Monday and should be considered day-to-day as of right now.

Eddie, Pembroke Pines: What are your thoughts on shootouts?

OLIVE: After Saturday night’s shootout victory? Love them! After glancing at Florida’s 7-10 shootout record? Hate them! In all seriousness though, I’m not a fan of any game ending in the skills competition. Yes, the event brings fans to their feet and is often a breeding ground for highlight-worthy moves, but it also negates all of the hard work players have already put in up until that point. Looking ahead, I am hoping that the NHL adopts a 3-on-3 overtime format similar to what the American Hockey League has been experimenting with this season. Basically, any game going into overtime is played 4-on-4 for the first three minutes. Then at the first whistle following the three minute mark, the teams switch to 3-on-3 for the final four minutes or until a goal is scored. So far, this has helped greatly reduce the amount of shootouts in the AHL.

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@AdamDenPodcast: Do the Panthers bring back Jaromir Jagr next season, and if so, how long of a contract would you give him?

OLIVE: Even at 43-years old, if Jaromir Jagr wants to continue playing hockey, you find room for him. That being said, I don’t think there is any way that Jagr will command anything more than a one-year deal from any team at this point in his career. Projected to finish the regular season with around 15 goals and 40 points, the future Hall of Famer will certainly garner interest from several teams this offseason, but few will be able to offer what Florida can. During free agency, Jagr will likely be faced with two choices when evaluating his potential suitors — join a playoff-bound team in a diminished role or play top-line minutes on a rebuilding roster. In Florida, Jagr can essentially have his cake and eat it too as he plays top-line minutes for a team with increasing playoff potential. As for a price tag, a $3.5 million base salary with high-value bonuses for points and games played sounds about right.

Mike, Fort Lauderdale: Should the Panthers be more worried about the Boston Bruins or the Ottawa Senators?

OLIVE: The Senators are like a student that shows up late to class, sits in the back and pretends they were there the whole time. I mean, where have these guys been? In recent weeks, no team in the NHL has been hotter than the Senators, who boast an 8-1-1 over their last 10 games played. As it stands now, Florida’s cushion over the Senators has shrunk to three points, with Ottawa having played three fewer games. The Bruins, meanwhile, maintain a two point lead over the ninth-place Panthers in the East, with two games in hand. In the end, I’m going to have to say that the Bruins still pose the bigger threat. Ottawa is getting by thanks to the surprisingly play of 27-year-old goaltender Andrew Hammond, who has posted a 7-0-1 record with a 1.43 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage. Call me crazy, but I just don’t think that’s sustainable, even for a guy with a nickname as cool as "The Hamburglar". 

You can follow Jameson Olive on Twitter @JamesonCoop or email him at JamesonOlive@gmail.com.