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

Let The Spending Begin

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


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Tags: Florida Panthers Free Agency 2010 Olli Jokinen

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