The big news was how little news there was. With many, myself included, predicting a roster purge, the Panthers went with a much quieter strategy. The only actual trade that the Panthers made at the deadline was a deal that sent Jerred Smithson to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a 2013 fourth round draft pick. The only other player movement involved the Winnipeg Jets picking up Mike Santorelli off waivers.
I think the Panthers got good value from the Smithson trade. The Panthers acquired Smithson last year at the trade deadline from the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 6th round 2012 pick. By getting a fourth round pick in this year’s draft the Panthers essentially exchanged a 6th round 2012 pick for a 4th round 2013 pick and got a year’s worth of playing time from the gritty Jerred Smithson.
Overall I think this deal will have little effect on the Panthers over the long run. Smithson is a solid defensive center and good in the face off circle but he is not a player that will swing a franchise’s fortunes in either direction. The fact that the Smithson trade was the big Panthers news coming out of the Trade Deadline says a lot about how quiet the deadline was for the Panthers.
I feel similarly about seeing Santorelli go. His 20 goal season in 2010-11 is a milestone that I do not see him reaching again in his career. Santo may develop into a steady third or fourth liner but nothing more and with the kind of talent the Panthers have coming through their system, they can afford to let him go.
The fact that the Panthers did not blow up their roster says a lot about how those involved with player decisions view this team. The inaction tells me that GM Dale Tallon is content with the players that he has and thinks they will form a steady core that can be improved upon with the addition of the Panthers’ talented prospects.
The recent run of quality play has demonstrated that this team is not as bad as their record indicates. They are after all only one year removed from a division title. While there was a lot of talk surrounding a possible move for Roberto Luongo, Jacob Markstrom‘s stellar play of late has made the Panther’s need for a goalie like Luongo irrelevant.
Perhaps the biggest news coming on deadline day was that the Panthers signed Nick Bjugstad, their tantalizing young center who just finished his collegiate season with Minnesota, to a three year entry level deal. Bjugstad will make his Panther debut Saturday against the Washington Capitals and he is just another in a long line of Panther players to make their NHL debut this season.
It is clear that Dale Tallon really does have a plan for the Panthers. He did not spend his first two years building this current edition of the Panthers only to blow it up and start over just because the team has hit some road blocks along the way. We have watched the young Panthers improve before our eyes this year and if the early returns are any indication of what to come, the future remains bright for the Florida Panthers.