Best Florida Panthers Player - 2004
Face it, the Panthers aren't looking all that good this year. Most days, their defense is porous, and if they send a puck or two to the back of the net, then it's been a good night. This is why goalie Roberto Luongo is -- without a doubt -- the team's most valuable player. Luongo joined the Panthers in the same trade that netted the team last year's winner, Olli Jokinen. But while Jokinen has had a so-so season, Luongo has been providing stellar performances between the posts night in and night out. If you have any doubts, just check the statistics: Luongo led the league in saves during the regular season with an astonishing 495 more than the number-two goalie. The Panthers scored barely two goals a game this season, yet 17 of the team's wins came with a one-goal margin. Luongo has clearly gained the respect of the rest of the league, as he was chosen by coaches as the Panthers' only delegate to the Eastern All Stars, and his name has been mentioned as a contender for both the Vezina (Best Goaltender) and Hart Memorial (league MVP) trophies. The Panthers' own acrobatic brick wall broke the record for most shutouts by a goalie under the age of 25 two-thirds of the way through the season and should look forward to a long career, hopefully here in South Florida.