Dale Tallon: A Trade Deadline Retrospective, Part 2: The Florida Panthers


Apr 21, 2012; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers fans before game five of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New Jersey Devils at BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Part 2 of Dale Tallon: A Trade Deadline Retrospective. In preparation for the April 3rd, 2013 NHL Trade Deadline I have gone back through Dale Tallon’s history as a general manager and looked at every one of his trade deadline deals. The purpose of this is simply to gain a better understanding of the man behind the curtain for the Florida Panthers. In Part 1 we looked at Dale Tallon’s tenure in Chicago where he rebuilt the Blackhawks into a Stanley Cup winner. In this, Part 2, we will look at how Tallon has handled the Panthers at the trade deadline since taking over as their general manager on May 17, 2010.

2010-11 Season (72 points, 15th Eastern Conference)

Dale Tallon was hired as the general manager of the Florida Panthers on May 17, 2010 replacing Randy Sexton. The Panthers were 32-37-13 with 77 points in 2009-10, the year before Tallon took over. Tallon did not wait long to begin overhauling Florida’s roster as he made a number of trades during the offseason, the biggest of which sent Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell to the Boston Bruins for Dennis Wideman and a pair of picks. Because our focus here is the trade deadline, I won’t go into the details of all Tallon’s offseason moves but it is worth noting that during the course of his first offseason as Panther GM, Tallon added the draft picks that would become Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden and Kyle Rau. All three of those players are now important Panther prospects and they project to have productive futures in the NHL. The other big addition to the Panthers was Eric Gudbranson who was Florida’s 1st round draft pick (3rd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The Panthers were definitely in need of a rebuild as they only managed a record of 30-40-12 in Tallon’s first full season as GM. Tallon began this rebuild in earnest at the 2010-11 trade deadline making a flurry of moves that stripped the team of most of its veterans and opened up cap space for future acquisitions. Let’s take a look:

Trade DeadlineFeb 28th, 2011:

Mar 8, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Jack Skille (12) tries to knock down the puck on a rebound off of Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (31) as defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (33) defends in the second period at the BB

Feb 10th: Florida Panthers trade Michael Frolik and Alexander Salak to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Hugh Jessiman, David Pacan and Jack Skille.

Michael Frolik had been a 20 goal scorer for the Panthers, but the team was tired of waiting on his development. Frolik has played in 25 games for the Blackhawks this season scoring one goal and three assists. He has helped the team in other ways as he was mentioned in Sports Illustrated’s recent cover story on the Hawks as growing into a shutdown penalty killer.

Goaltender Alexander Salak is playing in the Swedish Elite League after being released from his contract on June 18, 2012.

Out of the players received by the Panthers, Jack Skille has had the most impact at the NHL level thus far. The 25 year old has developed a reputation as a fast player who brings a lot of energy to the ice. He has picked up his play of late and has scored 3 goals and 7 assists so far this year with the Panthers. Skille is a -1 player this season which is pretty impressive on a team with a -38 goal differential.

Hugh Jessiman played in two games for the Panthers during the 10-11 season. He is now in the Senators system. David Pacan is a 21 year old fringe prospect for the Panthers. He is currently playing in the ECHL for Panthers’ affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones where he is second on the team with 49 points.

Feb 24th: Panthers trade Cory Stillman to the Carolina Huricanes and receive Ryan Carter and a 2011 5th round draft pick (132: Sean Kuraly) in return.

Cory Stillman was a forward who had a productive NHL career behind him. When the Panthers traded him, he was on his way out of the league, and he did in fact retire after the 10-11 season.

Ryan Carter played in 7 games for the Panthers following the trade and did not registering a point . He was claimed off waivers by the New Jersey Devils on October 26th, 2011.

On the Devils, Carter would form one of the most diabolical trio’s of revenge to ever haunt the Florida Panthers with fellow ex-Panther Steve Bernier and ex-Panther head coach Pete DeBoer. Steve Bernier came over to the Panthers in the 2010 offseason trade that sent Keith Ballard to the Canucks (side note: this was the same trade that saw the Panthers receive Michael Grabner who also slipped away from the Panthers, but thats another story). After the 10-11 season when the Panthers did not resign Bernier, he signed with the Devils. Pete DeBoer was fired by the Panthers after the 10-11 season and was hired as the Devils coach shortly after.

March 9, 2013; Raleigh, NC, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Ryan Carter (20) carries the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at the PNC center. The Hurricanes defeated the Devils 6-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2011-12 Playoffs, fate worked its magic and the Panthers and Devils met in the first round. The ex-Panthers got their shot at revenge as Pete DeBoer deployed Carter and Bernier on the Devils’ fourth line alongside Steven Gionta. That fourth line killed the Panthers scoring five goals and four assists during the first round series. Watching the series, it became clear that one of the clear advantages the Devils had was their fourth line that could be productive compared to the Panthers fourth line which was more of a liability than anything else.

So anyway, back to the trade: Florida ended up trading the 5th round pick they received to the Thrashers who in turn traded it to the San Jose Sharks who used it to pick Sean Kuraly.

Feb 25th: Florida Panthers receive Alexander Sulzer from Nashville Predators for a conditional 7th round pick.

The Predators would receive the pick if Sulzer resigned with the Panthers, which he did not do. Sulzer now plays for the Sabres and has logged three goals and one assist in 17 games played. Not much to see here.

Feb 26th: Florida Panthers trade Bryan McCabe to the New York Rangers for Tim Kennedy and a 2011 3rd round pick (75: Logan Shaw).

Bryan McCabe scored two goals and four assists in 19 games with NYR after the trade. He retired after the 10-11 season.

Tim Kennedy tallied one assist for the Panthers following the trade. He played in 27 games during the 11-12 season scoring one goal and adding one assist. He was traded to San Jose for Sean Sullivan. Sullivan then left Florida and signed with the Avalanche as a free agent. Neither player has made any NHL impact so far.

Logan Shaw is currently the fourth ranked RW prospect in the Panthers system (hockeysfuture.com). The 20 year old currently plays for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League).

Feb 28th: Florida Panthers trade Radek Dvorak and 2011 5th round pick (132: Sean Kuraly) for Niclas Bergfors and Patrick Rissmiller.

Radek Dvorak only recorded one assist in the thirteen games he played with Atlanta after the trade. Last year he played in 73 games with the Stars and recorded four goals and 17 assists. The 36 year old is currently retired/free agent.

Niclas Bergfors played in 20 games with Florida after coming over from Atlanta. He tallied one goal and six assists in those games. Bergfors signed with Nashville for the 11-12 season and now is playing in the KHL.

Patrick Rissmiller played in 9 games and recorded one assist. He is currently playing with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

Feb 28th: Florida trades Chris Higgins to Vancouver Canucks for Evan Obergand 2013 3rd round pick.

Mar 7, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins (20) fires a shot as Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson (7) defends at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won the game 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Higgins played in 48 games for the Panthers prior to the trade scoring 11 goals and 12 assists. Higgins became a valuable piece during the Canucks cup run scoring four goals and assisting on four other during the playoffs. The 29 year old Higgins has found a consistent spot in the Vancouver lineup. This season he has seven goals and four assists in 26 games.

Evan Oberg played for the San Antonio Rampage briefly until he was traded to the Tampa Bay organization along with Mike Kostka. The two players Florida got in return were James Wright and Mike Vernace. Wright was picked up off waivers by the Winnipeg Jets at the start of this season and Vernace as we will see later was part of the trade that landed Florida Wojtek Wolski at the trade deadline of the 11-12 season.

Feb 28th: Florida trades Denis Wideman to Washington Capitals for Jake Hauswirth and 2011 3rd round pick (86th: Jonathan Racine).

Denis Wideman was a productive player for the Capitals after the trade. In the following season, 11-12, Wideman scored 11 goals and 35 assists for the Capitals. He Currently plays for the Calgary Flames.

Jake Hauswirth played in the Panthers system until he was traded to Dallas in Florida’s trade for Krys Barch in December of the 11-12 season.

Jonathan Racine is a 19 year old defenseman who is ranked 8th out of Panther d-men on by Hockey’s Future. He currently plays for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL.

Feb 28th: Florida trades Bryan Allen to Carolina Hurricanes for Sergei Samsonov.

Allen, a defenseman is 32 and currently playing for the Anaheim Ducks. Samsonov played in 20 games for Florida and scored three goals and 11 assists. He is currently out of the NHL.

Looking Back:

Dale Tallon’s first trade deadline in charge of the Panthers was very similar to his early trade deadlines with the Chicago Blackhawks. In both cases Tallon tried to export aging veterans who would probably not factor into the long term plans. In return, Tallon stocked up on draft picks and young players. Aside from Jack Skille, no players that Tallon acquired at the deadline are currently playing for the Panthers but even so the picks and players Tallon accumulated gave him flexibility in making future trades, i.e. trades for Krys Barch, and Wojtek Wolski, and stocked the Panthers organization with young players.

2011-12 Season (94 points, 3rd Eastern Conference)

The purge at the deadline also set the stage for what Florida would do the following season. After trading away so many contracts, the Panthers had a ton of salary cap and roster space. This allowed the Panthers to bring in players such as Brian Campbell, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Marcel Goc, Tomas Kopecky and Jose Theodore. 2010 3rd round draft pick Erik Gudbranson would also debut during the season and the Panthers also acquired Jonathan Huberdeauwith the 3rd pick in the 2011 draft. The new additions would lead the Panthers to an improbably Southeast Division title.

Mar 14, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks left wing David Booth (7) during the first period against the Nashville Predators at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers made a couple of moves prior to the deadline, the biggest of which was trading David Booth, Steve Reinprecht and a 2013 3rd round pick to the Canucks for Maro Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson. Sturm and Samuelsson played vital roles on the 11-12 team although both are no longer with Florida. Reinprecht is out of the NHL while Booth has struggled to stay healthy this season.

The Panthers were relatively quiet at the trade deadline this year. With the team competing for a playoff spot, Tallon was content to attempt to add a few minor players to aid a possible playoff run.

Trade Deadline Feb 27th, 2012:

Feb 24th: Florida acquires Jerred Smithson from Nashville Predators for a 2012 6th round draft pick (164th Simon Fernholm).

Jerred Smithson has been a valuable player for the Panthers since coming over from Nashville. While usually centering the 4th line, Smithson has demonstrated a strong work ethic, steady defensive play and a knack for winning face-offs.

Feb 25th: Florida trades Mike Vernace and a 2013 3rd round pick from New York Rangers for Wojtek Wolski.

Wolski is a talented forward that added scoring depth for the Panthers during their playoff run. He did see playing his time diminish during the playoffs and he signed with the Washington Capitals as a free agent during the offseason.

Vernace is currently playing for the Rangers AHL affiliate the Connecticut Whale.

Looking Back:

With the Panthers looking like a playoff team at the 11-12 deadline, Tallon acted accordingly and approached the trade deadline with the mindset of strengthening the NHL roster for the post-season. While the success last year was nice, it was also unexpected. It was only a precursor to the long time success built on young players coming through the system that Tallon hopes to build.

Florida has taken a number of steps back this season and again we can expect Tallon to act accordingly. If the past is any indicator of Tallon’s tendencies then we can expect him to pursue all options that would allow him to export players that do not figure into the ‘blueprint’. With Florida not looking like they will be in the playoffs any time soon, the time leading up the the deadline should provide the most excitement that fans will experience going forward with this season.