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New Florida Panthers owner, Vinnie Viola, has promised that he will be looking to bring a host of new players to the club during next summer’s free agency period.

Because of the uncertainly surrounding the ownership of the Panthers at the time, Florida had a quiet off-season this year.

When Viola’s purchase was finalised less than a week before the start of the season, there was little time for new signings, although $6million was spent on acquiring veteran free agents, Tim Thomas, Brad Boyes, Jesse Winchester, Tom Gilbert, and Krys Barch.

However, Viola intends to continue to overhaul the team at the end of this season, confirming: “We intend on being in the free agent market in a significant way.

“We’re here to build a winner. We want to patiently win now. I don’t know if we can resolve the two logically, but that’s how I would say it. It’s been very exciting so far, and we are committed to winning now.”

Viola fired coach, Kevin Dineen, five weeks into the season after a 3-9-4 start but the decision seems to have worked as Florida have enjoyed a fine run of form since appointing Peter Horachek and are now playoff contenders in the NHL betting odds.

The Panthers are traditionally one of the weaker teams in the NHL and have only reached the playoffs four times since their inaugural season in 1993-94.

Indeed, they surprised the NHL betting in 2012 to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 12 years, before eventually being eliminated in seven games by the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

After the relative success of the 2011-12 campaign, the lockout shortened 2012-13 season was a major disappointment for the Panthers as they suffered injuries to key players and eventually finished with a dismal 15-26-6 record.


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