Panthers Make Trades; More Possibly to Come by Trade Deadline


Florida Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon has been quite busy over the last five days or so. Fans knew that he would be active to try to acquire more offense as the team is currently 25th in the NHL in goals scored.

It started on Tuesday when Tallon traded forward Sean Bergenheim and a 2016 7th Round Pick to the Minnesota Wild for a 2016 3rd Round Pick. Bergenheim was overall well respected as a Panther as he played hard every shift. After being scratched for consecutive games, he stated to Head Coach Gerard Gallant that he wanted a trade. Since he is an unrestricted free agent after this season, his wish was granted to make room for some new acquisitions.

“Sean was frustrated with his lack of ice time. He came to me … and I felt that maybe it was better if he went elsewhere. You don’t have to tell me twice,” said Tallon.

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In the late afternoon on Thursday, Tallon did just that by making a trade with the New Jersey Devils by acquiring five-time scoring championm 43-year old veteran forward Jaromir Jagr for a 2015 2nd Round Pick and 2016 3rd Round Pick. While many may say that Jagr isn’t the player that he once was, that is correct. However, he still has quite a bit of hockey left in him and isn’t hanging up the skates that soon. It is very possible that he may re-sign for next season as well.

Tallon stated “I’m excited about him coming here and just spending some time with him and watching him play. He’s an exciting guy to watch play. He’s still got it. We want to win a championship and we’re putting the pieces together step-by-step and we’re hopeful that Jaromir can lead these young guys to the promised land. It’s a win-win for us.”

Jagr puts himself at third on the Panthers in goals with 11 and sixth on the team in points with 29. There is no doubt that he will be a huge asset on and off the ice to help the Panthers continue their final twenty games of hoping to reach the playoffs. They now sit four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Shortly before Saturday’s game versus the Buffalo Sabres, Tallon was at it again as he traded forward Tomas Fleischmann to the Anaheim Ducks in return for veteran forward Dany Heatley and a 2015 3rd Round Pick. Heatley will report to San Antonio of the American Hockey League and likely will not play in Florida unless there are injury issues.

Fleischmann, like Bergenheim, is also an unrestricted free agent after this season and was earning $4.5 Million per season. While he had a career high of 61 points in 2011-2012, he only has 21 points this season and has not regained the form from a few seasons ago. He also was well-respected by the fans as he played with a lot of effort and never complained about being scratched in any games.

“We did what we had to do, for our case and for Fleischmann. He is a real pro, a real good guy. It was all about performance,” said Tallon.

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Florida Panthers

Trading Fleischmann frees up some salary in case Tallon wants to make any other moves before Monday’s 3pm trade deadline. While Jagr will certainly help with the offense, anything that he can add to the roster to produce goals will be essential. Especially, if it involves a player that can stay with the team long-term and work with their young core. It is likely that the other teams in the Wild Card mix such as the Bruins, Ottawa Senators, and Philadelphia Flyers could be in the process of making acquisitions as well.

Forwards Scottie Upshall and Tomas Kopecky are also unrestricted free agents after season and are presumably trade candidates as well to make another deal to acquire more offense. Kopecky has been scratched in the last three games and has not played since last Sunday when the Panthers were in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. In 52 games this season, he only has 7 points. While he is one of the team’s key assets in the locker room and on the penalty kill, during his four seasons in Florida, he had just one notable season during the shortened 2013 season with 27 points in 47 games.

Upshall has had an unfortunate history of not being able to stay healthy during his career. He did play 76 games last season and earned a career high 37 points. He does bring a ton of energy in his game, but has always had a poor reputation by fans by taking unnecessary penalties which lead to failed penalty kills at bad times in games. He is earning $3.5 Million per season and Tallon is looking for the team to continue to keep the team young long-term. With that salary and him at 31-years old, one would expect that there are talks to include him in a deal. Any veterans that are acquired will likely be ones that can provide on the scoresheet and can stay healthy.

The Panthers continue their seven-game homestand with the third game in the set on Sunday against their cross-state rival Tampa Bay Lightning. They have only played the Bolts once this season, which was back on October 9th in Tampa Bay as the first game of the regular season. The Lightning won the game 3-2 in overtime from a game winning goal by defenseman Victor Hedman.

The Lightning’s last game was on Friday with a 4-0 shutout over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Panthers are 2-3-2 in their second of back-to-back games after beating the Sabres on Saturday 5-3. Panthers goaltender Al Montoya is expected to get the start against Tampa Bay’s goaltender Ben Bishop. The Lightning lead the league in goals with 3.25 goals per game, so the Panthers will have to be ready in all areas if they want to secure another victory in as many days.