After what was a relatively slow evening with little movement of players and picks, the Florida Panthers and the Chicago Blackhawks decided to make a deal whose results would keep us awake a few hours, and may have caused us all to wake up early. The Panthers acquired puck moving defenceman Brian Campbell from the Chicago Blackhawks for Rostislav Olesz and his fat contract, which still has three years remaining on it. The final two at $4 million per. Oh, Uncle Jack that was a really dumb deal, but thankfully we have rid ourselves of another of your many mistakes. This is another move by Dale Tallon that removes from the Panthers another player that doesn’t fit his blueprint, and a player that had no future with us. And again continues to change the culture of the room.
The deal itself for the short term makes a lot of sense for Florida. We trade a player who was never going to give back in value what he was being paid. There weren’t many takers for an injury prone player who’s potential had never been reached. Rusty Olesz had worn out his welcome, and while he may have been well liked in some parts of this town (not here), most of us were hoping that someway Dale could find a dance partner. Or in the words of Pierre McGuire last night, someone to make sweet music with. I myself wasn’t expecting the Hawks to oblige. The folks in Chicago seem to be beside themselves and for very good reason. But the summer of events have just started, and both sides need to wait to see how this unfolds. Fans in Chicago are a bit upset and rightfully so. While Campbell’s contract was highly criticized, his play and his attributes will be missed. Go to Second City Hockey for their take and comments.
In acquiring Brian Campbell, the Panther’s now have a top solid top four veteran defenceman who immediately makes an improvement to the team’s defensive unit. A very mobile, smooth skating player who can play 25 plus minutes a night if needed. He instantly helps the power play, a sore spot for Florida last season. He’s a smart player that works hard, and is very adept at using the open ice to join or start the rush out of his zone. He can make that home run pass to the skater waiting at the red line. While he doesn’t posses a great shot from the point, he’s not afraid to take wind up from there, and has a quick release to find a shooter waiting for a one timer. We should be very pleased with his play on the ice. Campbell is 32 years old and will be playing for his fourth NHL team, having started his career with Buffalo, going to San Jose for 20 games, before he ended up with the Blackhawks when Dale Tallon signed him to the 7.1 million per year contract he has five years remaining on.
The deal itself comes with a few concerns for both sides which I will take on in a another post or two. In the short term though this solves a huge problem for Florida. In addition to the reasons mentioned previously Campbell knows what it takes to win. The difference in money, meaning the extra 4 million we are now spending, gets us closer to the cap floor which we need to reach, and works nicely for three years. However as Campbell approaches 36,and 37 he could become a ball and chain. This also might however take us out of the running for Brad Richards, although stranger things have happened, but if the effect works here like it did in Chicago when Dale signed him there, it could help in bringing other players to South Florida. Let it be known that Campbell waived his no trade clause to come here.
Some of Campbell’s highlights are, he assisted on the winning goal by Patrick Kane in the Stanley Cup Final last year. He’s a two time all star, and his best year point wise was in 2008-2009 when he compiled 52 with Chicago. He’s had four seasons of 40 points or more, which for a defenceman on this team could vault him into top 3 in scoring.Not known for being physical, who could ever forget this hit on RJ Umberger?
In the end at this point, we get rid of a bad contract, acquire a player that helps legitimize our rebuild and adds a veteran presence on the ice and in the dressing room. And for once, at least while Campbell is on the ice, it wont take 26 passes to get out of our zone. Plus who can’t like a guy with a nickname like Soupy!
More to come on this over the next few days. In the meantime, lets bask in the wonderment of how different this team looks already.
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