With some of the empty holes to fill upfront, the Florida Panthers will be looking to retool and improve to what they already have.
It’s been said by some fans that the Panthers are going into a “rebuild mode”. Despite loosing Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault to Vegas, the Cats are far from rebuilding. In fact, they are actually “retooling” their roster, to make changes that will help improve the team.
Last summer, we spent a good chunk of money on our d-core. The likes of Keith Yandle and Jason Demers were brought in. Aaron Ekblad was given a nice long term deal of 8 years, 60 million. It was nice to see money spent on top talent, as in previous years owners cheeped out on Free Agents.
A lot of us fans went into the season with high hopes, but it didn’t last very long once the year unraveled. With a laundry list full of injuries and inconsistent play, these were not the Panthers we had seen the previous season (2015-16). In result, the Cats missed out on the playoffs and instead saw themselves in the lottery.
After the Expansion Draft happened, many went out on social media to claim that we are “rebuilding”. After losing Smith and Marchessault to Vegas (as mentioned above), is when many started to hit the “panic button”. In terms of both players, Dale tried to make a deal with Vegas in order to protect Marchy. Unfortunately, a deal could not be made and the Golden Knights would go on to take Jonathan. There really wasn’t more Tallon could do. It was one of those “bite the bullet” moments.
With Reilly, it’s clear that the trade was to dump his salary. Smith holds an annual salary of 5 million a season. With the trade happening, it gives the Panthers some more breathing room with cap space. With Reilly’s deal off the books, the Cats can now use that space to target other replacements.
Losing those two players does not signal a “rebuild”. It just shows that we are “retooling” to make sure that all the pieces fit appropriately. If this was a rebuild, you’d see the likes of Ekblad, Trocheck, and maybe even Barkov gone. Our core is still in place and will be there for a long time.
While there are some holes to be filled upfront, it should not signal any panic or worry. Dale will obviously replace the departures of Reilly and Jonathan. Whether it be via Free Agency or through trade, it’s key to note that front office will push aggressively to improve the roster.
So please Panther fans, we are not rebuilding. We are retooling. Retooling to add to our core and to allow that every piece fits in the puzzle.