On Sunday we saw our first big trade of the season. The New York Islanders sent Matt Moulson, a 2014 first round pick and a 2015 second round pick to Buffalo in exchange for Thomas Vanek. The trade was a classic example of what we have come to expect from NHL trades. On one hand we have the Islanders giving up future assets because they believe they are close to contention, and on the other we have the Sabres, a rebuilding team trying to stock up on draft picks for the future.
Sound familiar? The Buffalo Sabres are in ‘all-out rebuild’ mode. That means any player on the team that does not figure into the teams’ long term future is up for grabs. The Sabres will try to acquire draft picks and young players or in the case of the Moulosn deal, a veteran whose contract expires at the end of the year.
The Florida Panthers have been in-and-out of ‘all-out rebuild’ mode for the past decade. It has been such a long process for the Panthers that it is hard to tell when one rebuild ends and when another one begins. I thought they were rebuilding in 2011-12 but then they went and won the Southeast Division. Then I thought they were out of the rebuilding fog in 2012-13 but quickly realized that was not the case once the horrendous season got under way.
Now here we are, twelve games into the season and the Panthers are 3-7-2, again toiling at the bottom of the standings. About two weeks about, the Ottawa Sun reported that a fire-sale is likely with this Panthers team. According to the report, any and all veterans are on the trading block. That means the likes of Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, Kris Versteeg, Dmitry Kulikov, Shawn Matthias, Brad Boyes and so on, could be moved sometime this season.
The logic behind potentially moving some veterans is simple, eventually they will become free-agents and walk for nothing so why not trade them when they still have some value and get something in return. Teams usually wait until it is clear that they will not be competing for a playoff spot before they start dismantling their team. The Buffalo Sabres know that the playoffs are not going to happen this year hence the Vanek trade. The Panthers may or may not be in the same boat.
That all brings us to right now. The Florida Panthers lost on Sunday 4-3 in a shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Florida is now in the midst of a four day break before their next game Friday, home against the St. Louis Blues. If there is any truth to the rumor that the Panthers are looking to move some players, now would be a good time to make a deal.
With the Vanek trade on Sunday, the Buffalo Sabres put a big ‘for sale’ sign on their front yard while also kicking off the trading season that will last until the NHL trade deadline on March 5th. Will the Panthers join the Sabres in opening their gates for business?
I do not have any inside information and this is based mostly off speculation but I would not be surprised if we see some changes to the roster between now and Friday’s game against St. Louuis. Keep in mind that for teams looking for one season rentals, a trade now is much more valuable than a trade at the deadline so teams like the Sabres and possibly the Panthers could get a bit more value by making a deal in October as opposed to March. Also more teams feel like they will compete at this point in the season so the Panthers could have more potential buyers.
Another factor that could force the Panthers hand is the play of Vincent Trocheck in the minors. Yesterday I wrote about Trocheck’s early season performance (five goals, four assists in eight games) and the possibilities of him being called up by the Panthers. Florida may want to keep their 20-year-old in the AHL for some extra seasoning but if they do make a trade that exports one of their offensive veterans, they will at least have the assurance that with Trocheck, they have a replacement-level type player waiting in the wings.
I cannot believe I am already writing the ‘let’s sell the team for the future’ post (at this rate its going to be a long season). While there are no specific rumors floating around, a trade in the NHL can happen in about as much time as it takes Jonathan Huberdeau to break down an opposing goalie, so all I am saying is, in these next few days, keep an eye on the Panthers roster. Something could be up.