The Florida Panthers may be shopping some of their veteran players, according to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.
Garrioch reported that the following players could all be available: Tomas Fleischmann, Brad Boyes, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, Shawn Matthias, Marcel Goc, Tom Gilbert and Dmitry Kulikov. The report also states that GM Dale Tallon will not move any of the Panthers young players so Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Erik Gudbranson will not be going anywhere.
What does this rumor mean? Will we see a Panther fire sale? According to Harvey Fialkov and the Sun-Sentinel, new Panthers owner Vincent Viola is getting impatient with the current roster and he has told GM Dale Tallon to deal some veterans. Let’s take a deeper look at this story:
Is this anything new?
George Richards of the Miami Herald said it best with this tweet regarding the Ottawa Sun report:
Regarding the Ottawa Sun story on #FlaPanthers vets being available. That’s not news. If anyone wanted most of them, they could’ve had them.
— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) October 20, 2013
The Panthers veterans have been on the trading block since last season’s team started falling apart. In other words, if a deal comes around for a Panthers vet that could improve the team’s future, Dale Tallon will make that deal. This is true now, and it was true last month, and it was true during the offseason. The Ottawa Sun story does not change any of that.
The best best case scenario for this years Panther team was they exceed expectations and compete for a playoff spot. Nobody expected this team to win the Stanley Cup and the Panthers are still obviously looking towards the future . This remains a rebuilding team and it will probably be another year or two until they can legitimately keep up with the rest of the league.
The Panthers have some young players but they also have a bunch of veterans that do not figure to be around for the long-term. Thus it makes sense that the organization would be looking to turn some of their veterans into valuable pieces for the future. The Ottawa Sun report could have been published last month or it could be published three months in the future. The story remains the same. Unless the Panthers all of the sudden shoot up to the top of the standings, they will keep a watchful eye on the trade market for their veteran players.
Would trading the vets be the right move?
In a weird way, the Panthers winning the Southeast Division in the 2011-12 season was a bad thing. Well, not necessarily a bad thing but it did distort expectations for the future of the team. Dale Tallon’s vision for the Panthers when he signed on as GM was that they would stock up on young players with the idea that they would be competitive three-five years down the road. The Panthers being so successful so early skewed expectations and had a lot of people thinking this was an ascendant team. Last year’s disaster of a season cruelly reset those high expectations for the Panthers and it forced the team back into a full-on rebuild mode.
Now we are faced with the prospect of the team moving some veteran players and the question is, is that the right move for the team? I think the answer to that question is unequivocally yes. Dale Tallon’s plan for the Panthers has always been stockpile prospects and build the team from the inside. In order for the team’s young players to make an impact there needs to be room on the roster and in order for their to be room on the roster, some of the Panther veterans will have to be moved.
Trading some of the Panther veterans will serve the dual purpose of opening up roster space for young players while netting the Panthers a nice piece or two in whatever trades they make. The Panthers have 11 players on their roster who become UFAs at the end of this season. The team will not be re-signing all those players and rather than them all walk at the end of the season for nothing in return, the best thing to do for the Panthers is to keep an eye out for possible trades.
Who could be moved?
According to the Sun report, just about every vet on the roster is an option to be moved. That does not mean everyone will go. Brian Campbell and Tim Thomas are two names we could see in the rumor mill, in addition to the players named in the Garrioch piece (Flieschmann, Boyes, Matthias, Upshall, Versteeg, Goc, Gilbert Kulikov).
There are a couple of players the Panthers might like to move but will probably not be able to find a taker due to clunky salaries. For example, Scottie Upshall was mentioned as a possible player to be moved but he currently has two years left on his contract at $3.5 million per season. With the way Upshall has played the last two plus seasons with Florida (61 GP, 6 goals 5 assists) I doubt there will be too many teams lining up to take on his salary.
Brian Campbell at three years and $7.1 million per season is another player with a contract that most teams would not be too excited about taking on. Would the Panthers even move Campbell if they found a taker? That is an interesting question. Unlike Upshall, Campbell actually has produced and he is probably the most valuable Panther on a nightly basis. That being said, if the Panthers are still floundering in the standings as we approach the trade deadline, I would guess that Campbell will be fair game.
The Panthers have had Fleischmann on the market since the trade deadline last season. He has two years, $4.5 million per season, remaining on his deal but his strong play will make him a desirable trade option for many teams.
It was speculated that if Kris Versteeg hadn’t injured his knee last season, he would have been traded at the deadline. If he proves he is fully recovered from the injury and is back to his scoring ways, there will be a line of teams looking to deal for him.
Two players that I think we could see some action on are Brad Boyes and Marcel Goc. Both are UFAs at the end of the season and both would be players targeted by contending teams at the deadline. Boyes would add scoring depth to any team with playoff aspirations and Goc is the type of player any team would love to have for a playoff run. His strong defensive play, and ability in the face-off circle are two attributes that teams are always looking for.
I am skeptical that the Panthers will trade Matthias as he is young, full of potential, and has two years remaining on his contract but then again, those are three reasons why other teams may be knocking on the door for a chance to acquire his services.
When it comes down to it, we have no idea what the Panthers will do. It should not be shocking that the team is looking to trade some of their veterans but there is a big difference between listening to trade offers and actually making a trade. We can be sure that Dale Tallon will not make a trade just for the sake of making a deal.
The possibility of Panthers on the move is just another story we will keep an eye on throughout the season. What do you think? Do you see the Panthers making a deals in the near future? Think they wait until the trade deadline? Who do you think will be on the move? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news.