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Dec. 16, 2011: Sunrise, FL, USA; Calgary Flames right wing Tom Kostopoulos (16) warms up before a game against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

A Look At The Remaining Top Free Agents. Do Any Fit The Florida Panthers?

This July hasn’t been nearly as frantic for the Florida Panthers as last year, and for the rest of the NHL for that matter either.  For days it seemed that the only thing people were talking about was when and where would Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sign.  And when they did, everyone expected a lanslide of movement afterwards.  When you look at the free agent tracker that’s posted on, you can see that there’s been just about the same activity before the dynamic duo took their talents to Minnesota, as there has been after.

Florida Panther fans are anticipating another name or two to be brought in before the season starts, and while things have been relatively quiet this month, the recent signing of forward Peter Mueller at least addressed the issue of scoring.  Thinking that Dale Tallon isn’t finished is probably right, and we still need to have Kris Versteeg in the fold as well.  However Dale isn’t going to jut throw money at a player if it doesn’t make sense.  There are still a few quality free agents available, as Kevin Allen posted his top choices in yesterday’s USA Today that Florida could make a run for.  Kevin has listed 15 players that he feels are the top contenders that remain, and though not all 15 are actual candidates in my mind of who the Panthers should consider, a few of them are.

Shane Doan:  Shane has been with the Phoenix Coyotes (Winnipeg Jets in 1996) his entire career which dates back to 1995-1996. It’s hard to imagine him playing anywhere else, but with the uncertainty in Glendale, and with Doan chasing what has been an elusive Stanley Cup, one must think that his next stop, which could be his last will be with a team that’s very close to being a legitimate Cup contender.  The Panthers aren’t there yet of course, but adding Doan who probably has a good three years left in his game would clearly be a step in the right direction.  But at what cost?  Personally I would love to see Doan in a Panther sweater.  He knows Jovo, and Mueller, so there’s that little nugget. He just may be too expensive, but if there’s a way to make the numbers work, he instantly makes the Panthers even better than last season.

Alexander Semin:  Never has there been so much talk about an enigmatic Russian player’s availability before since…well…Alex Kovalev?  There is no doubt that Semin, like Kovalev has talent.  He is probably one of the best players that still needs a home with a tremendous upside. If.  If he plays at 100% every shift.  If he plays at 100% every period.  If he plays 100% every game.  For the entire season. Kevin mentions in his article that teams are in love with his talent but scared of his inconsistency.  I would have to agree, but dealing Dale could take a chance on this player, and make it work.  I would imagine that Semin should be looking at this moment to be the perfect time to shed his lazy image, and make a name for himself, and play with the consistency that he’s capable of.  A short contract of two years at a reasonable price of $5 to $6 million per season with some incentives.  Another player that instantly makes us better.  Except on the shifts and nights he decides to take off.

Jason Arnott:  Sure he’s another aging player, but at 37 he still has a lot to offer.  A former Stanley Cup winner, Arnott is a big body who actually uses it, and has some scoring skill to boot.  He has 17 goals last season for the St. Louis Blues and there’s no reason to think he can’t at least equal that again.  He can easily be slotted into either the second or third line center position, kill penalties, as well as take the all important faceoffs late in the game.  Plus his experience will be great for players like Huberdeau and even Mueller.

Tom Kostopoulos: I have always like Tom and not because he’s Greek.  He’s the type of player that will work hard every shift regardless of the line that you put him on.  And that’s the thing.  He can play in your top six for a brief stretch of a game or period, and you won’t be worried about any glaring mistakes or awkard moments.  His game is about being aggressive, and being on the puck.  His energy is certainly something that fits in right on the third line.  I can see Tom with Sean Bergenhiem and Marcel Goc.  Or I can see Tom with Jerred Smithson and Tomas Kopecky, or George Parros.  He’s durable, reliable, and he hits most everything.  And what team can’t use more Greek power?.  This wouldn’t be a big signing, but would be a player that fits a role which every team needs. 

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Alexander Semin Dale Tallon Florida Panthers Free Agents Shane Doan Tom Kostopouolos

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