Dale Tallon. A Lot Of Work Ahead. Source: Palm Beach Post

Three Free Agent's The Panthers Must Keep.

The “Blueprint” that Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is acting on has many moving parts as it does questions.  Having a few months to actually figure out which players on the current roster are worthy of keeping, which players on other rosters are potentially worth making a deal for, and what free agents can they make offers to.  In addition there’s also the component of the upcoming draft and what to do with the third overall pick, as well as which player(s) could possibly make the roster from last years draft.

Much work ahead, but three things that this writer feels must happen, are three players that need to be resigned and kept in the mix.

* Mike Santorelli: Possibly the best find that Tallon and assistant Mike Santos made last summer was picking up this kid.  Spending time in Nashville, which is how Santos became familiar with him, gave Santos a unique perspective.  Maybe all Santorelli needed was a chance to play some regular minutes.  Santorelli had some goal scoring success in college, playing for Northern Michigan, and also plying for Nashville’s AHL team the Milwaukee Admirals.  He earned a job in training camp this past September, and while it took a few games for him to get on the scoreboard, his play was solid enough to keep him here.  Playing mostly second line minutes, Santorelli ended up with 20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points.  Not great, but also, not bad for a team that struggled to score as it is.  He can only get better with more ice time, and with some decent wingers as his linemates.

What would I offer? A two year deal for a total of 2.5 million dollars.  Reward him slightly for his accomplishments last season, but make him continue to work hard to get better going forward.  If he’s light’s out and his numbers go through the roof, then this deal can always be restructured.

Marty Reasoner: I will admit that when I heard of his acquisition I was completely unimpressed.  I figured that we had enough of guys like this, and thought that Marty was the annual over the hill player the Panthers always seemed to pick up.  i was wrong, as I bet many of you were too.  His second highest point performance of his career (14 goals, 18 assist’s, 32 points).  He killed penalties, took important faceoffs and was a team leader, especially after captain Bryan McCabe was traded.  there is absolutely nothing fancy about his game.  However, he will give you an honest effort every night, and every shift.  He won’t embarass you either if you need him on the power play or even to play among the top six forwards.

What would I offer? Two years for a total of 3 million.  This would be a slight raise over last season and give him a chance to have some stability in his career, as it approaches the latter stages.  He still has some gas in the tank.

Tomas Vokoun: Without a doubt this player is the backbone of the team.  Who knows where we’d be without him as our number one goaltender.  Mr. Knowsnothing might think he knows, but he doesn’t.  Vokoun for all the bad goals people think he has given up, have not cost us the amount of games that you think he has.  Again, the team’s problem is scoring.  It’s completely unfair to ask him to give up two goals or less every game.  You “haters” will be doing the same to whoever else you may want in his place.  101 wins in four years for a team that has gone no place is pretty solid.  No one works harder, no one wants to win more.  he’s had his differences with both Jacques Martin and peter DeBoer, both who are no longer here, and maybe with the right coach, and defensive philosophy, Vokoun will be willing to stay.  I hope so.  There aren’t too many goaltenders in the free agency market that are available that can provide what Vokoun does.  Ilya Bryzgalov is the only one that comes to mind, and I’m not sure that he’ll leave Phoenix (or Winnepeg), to come here, despite who his other suitors are.

What would I offer?  If Vokoun can stay here for a hometown discount, I’d see about a package that’s no longer than three years, but ideally for two.  If it’s a two year deal, then the package I’d offer is for a total of 8.5 million.  Three years, my deal would be for 13 million.

Honorable mention:  Ryan Carter:  I like what this kid brings and he looks like he’s got the right amount of grit and snarl that we need.

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Tags: Blueprint Dale Tallon Florida Panthers Marty Reasoner Mike Santorelli Mr Knowsnothing Tomas Vokoun

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