Let The Spending Begin

Don't Worry He's Not Coming Here. Source: Sportsnet

July 1, 2010.  A holiday for everyone, especially if you live in Canada as it’s Canada Day.  For the rest of us though, it’s the beginning of the Free Agency period, where players sign silly contracts for ungodly amounts of money, for long periods of time, with teams that sometimes make us shake our heads and say, “Why would he go there”?

Yes, it’s holiday for all hockey fans as all 30 GM’s prepare to add that special piece of the puzzle to their team that will hopefully lead them to the promised land.  Or if you’re in Florida like we are, the playoffs!

Who will be the first player signed?  Who will be the first big name player signed?  Who makes the biggest splash?  These questions will all be answered soon, but the biggest question here in South Florida is, “Who will the Panthers sign”?

If you’re counting on Ilya Kovalchuk, I think you better lower your expectations.  A) We can’t afford to pay him what he wants, which will be somewhere in the 7-8 million dollar range.  B) We have too many holes to fill.

Will we sign anyone today?  Who knows.  Who should we go after?  Well, that’s the big question. The needs of the Panthers in my opinion, for whatever it’s worth, are as follows.  A center, a high scoring winger, and a hard working role player that can play on the third line, yet be expected to score about 15-20 goals.  I’d have my sights set on three players or four players myself.  Maxim Afinogenov, Alexander Frolov, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and maybe Matthew Lombardi.  My dark horse picks are Olli Jokinen, and yes, Jonathan Cheechoo.  And those last two are very dark.

Afinogenov, Frolov and Ponikarovsky all are very talented and can score.  When they put their minds to it.  Which might be an issue.  But a change of scenery and the ability to come to a team that has a plan in place for success could be the perfect medicine for them.  However, and I say this with all seriousness, Frolov is not getting 5 million from us! Apparently that’s what he’s asking, and if that’s the price, forget it.

Jokinen, well, we know he had his best years here and would most likely welcome the opportunity to come back.  If his heads on straight and he focuses on just playing hockey without having any leadership roles, maybe he can recapture his touch.  Plus Uncle Jack isn’t here anymore.  As for Cheechoo, besides the fact that I love his name, he’s a former 50 goal scorer.  His career has taken a down turn because of injuries.  He deserves a chance and works extremely hard.  he can play on the third line, and has the ability to put the puck in the net, and could move to the second line, or even the first if he regains his touch.  He’s certainly in our price range as Ottawa has just bought him out.

After just coming back from a three day business trip, I have alot of catching up to do, and this is all speculation.  But hey, I don’t  think any of these choices are that far fetched.  They’ll all fit the budget.  The question is, do they want to be here, and would the Panther brain trust want them to be here?

We’ll soon find out.

Look on the blogroll down to the right, as I have added the TSN Free Agency Tracker.  It updates autmatically and you can check it here everyday. 

The fun begins today.

I welcome your comments, and your thoughts about who we need to go after.

Thanks for reading.

Please take a look at our new NHL main page:  Too Many Men On The Site

You can follow me on Twitter @The RatTrick

Cheers

Topics: Florida Panthers, Free Agency 2010, Olli Jokinen

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  • slapshot1106

    No, no, and no to Frolov, Afinogenov, and Cheechoo… The others in Lombardi, Ponikarovsky, and Jokinen would be logical, but only at reasonable prices… Problem being there is centers like Lombardi are in demand by many, so someone will end up overpaying there… I like Ponikarovsky, but not sure he’s the best fit for the Panthers… He’d be better on a grittier team that mainly needs scoring…

    I think the Panthers should concentrate on grit first in free agency, then things should open up for some of our softer fwds… Guys I would suggest would be Burish, Asham, and Jody Shelley for team toughness…Colby Armstrong would be nice, but like Lombardi, someone will end up overpaying…

    The only gritty guys the Panthers have now are Booth, Bitz, and McArdle. Considering Booth is really supposed to be our top scorer, we really only have 2. I would’ve liked to see Tarnasky resigned to add more, but Tallon opted to pass… So a reasonable goal for now would be to at least add 2 or 3 grittier fwds somehow throughout this year. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it should open things up for our softer, supposed scoring fwds(Weiss,Stillman, Grabner, Frolik, Olesz)… Realisitically, if we could add more grit this year, then next year we could look at spending for a scorer in free agency… Until we add grit, I think we’re just wasting $$$… None of the coveted free agents will want to come here until we make more strides and clean out more crap, so we’re probably still a good year away from that…maybe 2…Sorry, the TRUTH hurts…

  • Frank Rekas

    I certainly not looking at them overpaying for any of these guys. That’s for sure. The Frolov and Afinogenov deals would be for talented socring, which we lack. One would be enough, and I’d bet Afino could be had for 2 mil. If he plays like last year, that’d be great.
    Lombardi would just be a bandaid, and or allow us to peddle Reinprecht possibly. He’s fast and decent on faceoffs. Unless we can trade for a top center, he could be a good fit, but I agree, don’t overpay.
    As for Poni, he’s a big body, and we lack big bodied forwards. Have no idea what he’s looking for but he could be a good fit due to his size.

    My Cheechoo thing is just a long shot. He’s got problems, but he works extremely hard and isn’t afraid of the corners. Just think if he ever finds his touch again? could score 25 to 30. If he plays on fourth line, forget it. That’s not him and that’s what happened alot in Ottawa.

  • slapshot1106

    Frolov sounds lazy like Horton, so we don’t need more of that… Afinogenov is better suited in the KHL. You have to be skeptical when he had a decent year in Atlanta, and they’re not interested in re-upping… I think Dudley is savvy there, and realized he maxed out last year. Also, Atlanta has improved and I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish 2nd behind the Caps in the division, and find their way into a playoff spot… They’re a couple years ahead of us in the rebuilding phase…

    As far as Reinprecht, if there was any interest, I think Tallon would’ve let him go for a 3rd, 4th, or 5th rounder. Same thing with Stillman, Olesz, Allen, etc… We’ll probably have to let Allen, Stillman, and Rhino’s contract out. Allen and Stillman I believe expire after this year, Rhino I think 2 more, and Olesz probably gets bought out after this year…

  • Frank Rekas

    The lazy part is what concerns me about Frolov too, but if Tallon can instill the demands that he’s expecting into DeBoer and Deboer actually follows through, then maybe he could help.
    As for Afino, yes, it’s odd the way he played last year, but I wouldn’t think that too many teams would be offering a deal more than 2 years. That said, he might be a guy to take a chance on.
    I think Dale will be smart no matter what. I wouldn’t expect any NTC’s on anyone’s contract either.

    So far, nothing happening