With the Expansion Draft rapidly approaching, the Florida Panthers are faced with incredibly difficult decisions on what players they should protect.
As rumors continue to circulate of who might be left unprotected and who will be protected, tension begins to rise amongst the fans in hopes that Dale Tallon protects the players that will have the most positive impact on the team in the future.
However, the majority of Panthers fans were surprised by the tweet made by Elliote Friedman. According to Friedman: “Because of protection issues, word is FLA’s Jonathan Marchessault is potentially available. 30 goals, great contract.” Although this is simply a rumor at this point, we should still take this rumor seriously nonetheless because it derives from a highly reputable source in Friedman.
This is quite shocking as Marchessault led the offensively challenged Panthers with 30 goals, 21 assists, and 51 points on the season. His 51 points placed 3rd on the team behind Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov respectively. The last Panthers player to score 30+ goals was back in the 08-09 season where Florida forward David Booth amassed 31 goals. He was later dealt to the Canucks in the beginning of the 11-12 season after seeing his numbers drastically decline, prior to his historic season in 2009.
This raises the question: Does Dale Tallon see a similar future regression in Jonathan Marchessault as well? Tallon traded Booth after just 6 games into the 2012 season, which was Tallon’s first year as the Panthers General Manager. Jonathan has only 1 year remaining on his current contract and will most likely demand a hefty contract that Tallon might not be so inclined to offer to the young forward who just finished his first full season in the NHL.
Although leaving Marchy unprotected isn’t the smartest of decisions, Tallon could possibly test the trade market in order to retrieve draft picks in exchange for Marchessault. This would allow the Cats to protect either Nick Bjugstad or Reilly Smith in result. The Panthers would not need to empty their wallets to meet the high asking price to retain him and they would be able to protect another young promising player with Jonathan out of the picture.
Tallon most likely is not expecting another quality year from Marchy, which seems to be playing highly into his decision of not keeping him in the fold for the foreseeable future. There is still an abundance of time left before the expansion draft begins, as Dale Tallon will most certainly have his work cut out for him, regarding exploring the market for what teams have to offer for the young 30 goal scorer carrying a club friendly contract.