It was announced on Friday that the Florida Panthers have agreed to a one year, one way contract with defenceman Keaton Ellerby. The young defenceman who is already 23 after being drafted in the first round, and 10th overall in 2007, has taken the long path the the NHL. Ellerby has yet to play a full season for the Panthers, and played in 40 regular season games last year with five points, all coming on assists. He also managed to appear in one playoff game (game 4) during the first round series against the New Jersey Devils.
The Strathmore, Alberta native is listed at 6′ 4″ and 217 lbs, and was expected to play with a physical edge after he was selected in the draft. A quick and agile skater, it seems that it has taken Ellerby much longer to develop than other defenceman, and because of that he’s been brought along slowly.
The Panthers now appear to have a crowded blueline corps. Brian Campbell, Jovo, Mike Weaver, Filip Kuba, Erik Gudbranson, Tyson Strachan and potentially Dmitry Kulikov should he resign, gives the Panthers eight defencemen. With room enough for six to play at one time, it appears that a move could be coming. Pure speculation on my part, but with so many on the backend, one feels as though the Panthers are preparing for a trade, and one of our defencemen could be a part of it. It’s obviously easier to deal someone that’s under contract as opposed to someone who isn’t, and with Mike Santorelli another player that appears to have his days numbered, the Panthers could be looking to unload some bodies and to clear some cap space.
As rumors began stirring again late yesterday afternoon about Roberto Luongo expressing his desire to leave Vancouver, one has to wonder if the Ellerby signing is the precursor to a deal for the former Panther netminder. The package going to the Canucks would most likely need to include a goaltender, as well as a position player or two, and a prospect. A trade that I’d rather not discuss, I’m actually hoping that the Panthers look the other way and address their scoring issues and make a run at Alexander Semin. The enigmatic Russian forward has the potential to score 40 goals, and that’s something that this team is in desperate need of. Obviously acquiring Semin would be done via free agency, and the Panthers wouldn’t have to lose a player in the process, therefore giving them flexibility to make a trade in another area.
The salary that Luongo earns is going to be payed out at $6.7 million for the next six seasons. At the end of that, he’ll be 39 with still more time on the deal. He could retire I suppose, but he’ll be difficult to trade getting closer to that point. On the other hand my guess is that the market for Semin will command somewhere around $5.5 to 6 million a season. As long as we don’t have to lock him up for six years it’s worth a shot.
The fun part of the summertime is wondering what will happen and when. Speculation about player movement is rampant at times, then quiet for days. I firmly believe that something will happen. When and who is involved I don’t know. I just hope that when the shoe other drops, it’s for the right reasons.
Remember fans, “In Dale We Trust”.
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