The NHL trade deadline, April 3rd 3:00 pm, is fast approaching and with the Florida Panthers seemingly out of the playoff hunt, you can expect them to be big sellers throughout the next few weeks. Unfortunately with the Panthers poised to be sellers, we will be talking less about the notable players arriving and more about the notable players leaving.
According to the Ottawa Sun, two league sources have confirmed that GM Dale Tallon is ready to listen to any and all offers regarding the Panthers. With the team’s playoff hopes dwindling with each successive loss, the Panthers will look to shed some contracts and try to get some draft picks and prospects in return. The sources report that aside from Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson, Jacob Markstrom and Drew Shore, the entire Panther roster is up for discussion regarding trades.
The same source says that Kris Versteeg is one of the top names the Panthers are currently dangling on the open market. Versteeg just signed an extension with the Panthers at $4.4 million a season through 2016, and it would be surprising to see the team flip him so soon but as we have seen with Dale Tallon in the past, he is not afraid to make controversial moves. Versteeg has been struggling through injuries this season and he has seen his production dip because of it (1 goal 2 assists). His poor play this season and contract could hinder a team from trading for Versteeg, but he would be a valuable addition to any contender in need of offense.
Stephen Weiss was almost a lock to be moved by the deadline until he opted for season ending wrist surgery thus torpedoing his trade value. Weiss only logged four points (1 goal 3 assists) in his 17 games but his offensive history would have been enough to convince a team to trade for him. Weiss becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and Florida is now faced with the possibility that Weiss could walk in the offseason and the team will get nothing in return.
It seems like other than the Panthers key prospects, no player is immune to the possibility of being moved by the deadline. We will follow all of the trade buzz closely as we get closer to the deadline. For now, here is a list of Panther players that I think are most likely to be moved by the deadline:
Peter Mueller: He becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season and has proved through his play this year that he has recovered from past concussion troubles. If Florida does not plan on signing him long term in the off-season, then they could get pretty good value by trading him.
Shawn Matthias: Matthias is another player who will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The 25 year old is a physically imposing forward and has demonstrated a nice scoring touch this season. He would be a great addition to the third or fourth line of a contending team. I expect Matthias to garner a lot of interest.
Jack Skille: Like Matthias, he becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Its doubtful that Skille figures into the Panthers’ long term plans so I could easily see him being moved.
Jerred Smithson: Smithson who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season came over to the Panthers last season at the trade deadline from the Nashville Predators. A defensive forward that is strong on face-offs, I’m sure some teams out there would make a move for Smithson who would add depth to any teams’ forward pool.