In a couple of small (ha, ha) moves on Tuesday the Florida Panthers added some depth to the organEYEzation. The first move was the trading of popular, but career AHLer Graham Mink to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman T.J. Fast. Mink had a pretty strong camp last season, but at 31 years old has yet to crack an NHL lineup for even fourth line duty. At this point if you can’t play for the Panthers, you’re in trouble. Acquiring Fast a 6′-5″ 185 lb. defenceman is a depth move. He was a second round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2005, played for two years at the University of Denver, but has spent most of the last two season in the ECHL. UGH!
In another (minor) move, the Panthers signed free agent defenceman Mike Weaver, also most recently of the St. Louis Blues. Weaver is a right handed shot (something that’s needed on the “D”), and is known for his penalty killing efforts. Weaver is a seven year veteran at 32 years old, and spent the last two seasons with the Blues as they had the number one penalty kill unit in the NHL. Weaver averaged approximately four minutes per game on the PK unit.
Assistant general manager Mike Santos made comparisons of Weaver to Francis Bouillon and Greg Zanon, two other short defencemen. Listed at 5′-9″ and 186 lbs, Weaver will compete for the third defensive pairing, and possibly cause the Panthers to send first round pick Eric Gudbranson back to juniors for additional seasoning. Not saying that Gudbranson won’t make the team, but with all the defenceman in camp now, and most of them on one -way deals, it will be harder for Eric to make the team. However, this remains to be seen. While these moves give the Panthers flexibility on the blue line, it also opens up the opportunity for a trade, as Bryan McCabe, and Bryan Allen could be easy marks.
While I’d love to see Gudbranson make the club out of camp, there’s no rush. Seasoning won’t hurt, and general manager Dale Tallon like to make sure his youngsters are ready, the possibility of Gudbranson making the team appear smaller. I mean slimmer.:).
One last depth depth deal to announce as well. Defenceman Joe Callahan (who) was also signed and will most likely end up with Rockford in the AHL. Originally drafted by Phoenix the 27 year old 6′-3″ 220 pounder was most recently property of the San Jose Sharks.
So that’s the quick (Fast) and short (Weaver) update on the recent activity. Still missing is a goal scorer and some toughness.
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