The Florida Panthers sent a message yesterday, that despite them most likely out the playoff race they won’t stop competing this year and in the same move sped up their ‘rebuild’ by years.
The day started slow, with general manager Dale Tallon trading rugged defenseman Mike Weaver to the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth round pick in the 2015-NHL Draft. With Weaver being a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, this move wasn’t surprising.
Upon his exit, Tallon had nothing but great things to say about Weaver, who was in his fourth season with the Panthers.
Tallon says Weaver was a warrior and wishes him the best. Said matthias was inconsistent and needed a change #FlaPanthers
— Harvey Fialkov (@hfialkov) March 4, 2014
Florida wasn’t done with their crazy day, as the talks of a Brad Boyes contract extension finally came to fruition. The team’s leading goal getter signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $2.625 million, making him a free agent for the 2016-2017 season.
Once a 40-goal scorer, Boyes is on pace for his first 20-goal season since the 2008-2009 hockey season, when he scored 33-for the St. Louis Blues.
Finding his touch again, Boyes will be a welcome piece of a Panthers’ team that has struggled to score goals this season, and could do so until their young guns find their footing in the league – making Boyes that much more valuable and that much a bargain with his cap hit.
Refusing to stop there, the Panthers shored up the game’s most important position – trading for a familiar face, Roberto Luongo. The former Panthers’ goaltender has spent the last eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks finally getting out of the messy situation he was intertwined with in Vancouver.
Luongo gives the Panthers a franchise goaltender that is locked up for another eight seasons, with Vancouver paying 15% of his contract.
Going to the Canucks is Jacob Markstrom, who I had talked about a few days ago whether or not he was still a part of the Panthers future plans. There is your answer there.
Also going to Vancouver is Shawn Matthias, who was originally acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in the Todd Bertuzzi trade. Matthias has had a very uneven career and Tallon thought it was best for a change of scenery.
Dale on Matthias to reporters: It's time for a change for him. Inconsistency was the big issue. A lot of upside, works hard, big shot.
— Paige Lewis (@PaigeLewisFL) March 4, 2014
All in all, the Panthers moved a pending free agent defenseman for a draft pick (not surprising), traded two draft picks for a potentially dynamic young center (marginally surprising) and traded for an elite goaltender capable of keeping them in just about every game they play in even if they have no business staying in.
For a team that is currently projected to pick third overall in the draft, that is quite the haul. With the known history between Luongo and Thomas – don’t be surprised if the Thomas trade talks pick up a massive amount of steam.
The deadline is set for 3 pm ET, and if the Panthers are any indication we could be in for quite the day!
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