As we wind down day three of “Free Agent Frenzy”, the Florida Panthers have been the polar opposite in terms of activity compared to last year. Obviously there’s a good reason for that, as the Panthers entered the previous free agent marketplace with barely half a roster, and Dale Tallon wasted no time in filling those positions up. This year however, there are only a few spots available, and while one or possibly two forward positions could be taken up by the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau, or Quinton Howden, and maybe even Nick Bjugstad, there is still some work to do.
As we take a look for example at our right wings, we currently have Tomas Kopecky, Jack Skille, and George Parros. Kris Versteeg is a restricted free agent whom the Florida Panthers hope to resign, and even if they do, it’s still obvious that some help is needed on the right side. Hoping that Versteeg does resign, that gives us back our second leading goal scorer as Versteeg finished the season with 23 goals good enough for second on the team behind Tomas Fleischmann’s 27.
So where and who do the Panthers look at for help? With Jaromir Jagr just having signed in Dallas for one season, that takes him out of the picture, and while I don’t know if he would have been a good fit here or not, going to Dallas is even stranger, as the Stars have become old very quickly after also signing Ray Whitney. The top of the list includes Shane Doan, Alexander Semin, and Petr Sykora. All three have the ability to score at least 20-25 goals, while Semin is not only the most talented, and the youngest could actually put up as many as 35-40. Provided he cared about playing, which is a possibility in the right situation. After those three, we are left with Andrei Kostitsyn, Peter Mueller and that’s about it.
Shane Doan, who I could never imagine leaving Phoenix would be a great addition to the Panthers. Captain material, plays tough at both ends of the ice, and a respectable player. He might command too much, and might be on the downside of his career, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing him in a Panther sweater. Sykora is a guy with great hands, and a great shot. I wanted the Panthers to go after him a few seasons ago, but Jacques Martin didn’t think we could use his 20 goals a season. Mueller hasn’t shown me much yet, and I doubt we take a chance on him. As for Kostitsyn, if the Nashville night life was too dangerous for him, imagine what South Beach could do!
That leaves us with Alexander Semin. A few months ago I was dead set against taking a flyer on this guy under any circumstance, however my tune may have changed slightly. Semin is a 28 year old winger, and at that age the timing could be just perfect, as he enters what is typically known as his prime. He has the ability to score 40 goals, the question though is does he care enough to do it? I’ve said in the past that if you can’t get excited about playing on the same team as Ovechkin and Backstrom, then I’m not sure what moves you, but it could be one of those situations where he just needs a change of scenery.
Anyone who knows me knows that I like the North American player, and have little patience for skilled foreigners, who play when they want to play. But maybe at this point we actually take a chance and make an offer to Semin. Imagine if he scored 35-40 goals here, he would be a hero! Couple that with 30 from Versteeg, and if Flash can get 30 as well, there’s 100 goals. A short contract offer of no more than two years, with some performance bonus’s built in, Alexander Semin could be worth a shot.
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