The free agent signing period begins Friday, July 1. The Florida Panthers have approximately $24 million to spend just to reach the salary cap floor, which means the team will need to be active to reach that mark. So over the next few days, we’ll be taking a look at some of the free agents that we hope might be on the Cats radar (and vice versa). In this installment, we’ll take a look at Simon Gagne and Jussi Jokinen
Gagne can be an elite scorer when healthy and motivated…and that is exactly what the Panthers are looking for…elite scoring.
Gagne has averaged just 56 games a year in the past four seasons, being labeled concussion prone while entering the latter part of his 11-year career. Gagne was shipped to Tampa Bay last season. However, after the injuries continued throughout the 2011 campaign, it has been suggested that the Lighting will not retain Gagne’s services.
The first half of the season was rough on Gagne, who had 13 points in 33 games with a -19 rating and battled a neck injury. However, after the holidays he had 27 points in 30 games and a +7 rating.
Gagne could bring the scoring the Panther need desperately. He still has the touch, the question will be if the Panthers are willing to deal with his injury risk and salary commands. However he could be a good fit on left wing for the Cats.
A lot of Panthers fans might be excited to see a Jokinen jersey again…or maybe not.
But Jussi Jokinen is quite a bit different Olli… as a 30-goal scorer a season ago, and at 27, he is in the prime of his career. He will be one of a handful of productive free agents available at a reasonable price. Another element of Jokinen, he’s a gamer. After missing six games in January he returned to the lineup with six goals and six assists in his next nine games, then Jussi missed another six games in February, only to score four more goals in the next six.
He is also a bit of a shootout specialist, which is for sure something the Panthers could use…
In the End: I see the Panthers expressing interest, particularly in Jokinen. He makes a lot of sense to fill in that second line left winger position. Let’s hope Tallon gives him a call on Friday
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