With the second day of Free Agency coming to an end, the Florida Panthers haven’t been as active as they would have liked.
It’s been a slow start to Free Agency for the Florida Panthers. With a lot of the top Free Agents gone, there isn’t much on the list to pick from. The Cats still have a lot of work to do, especially with replacing our departures.
So far, our wing position is weak. Cutting ties with Jagr, buying out Jokinen, trading Smith, and losing Marchessault in the Expansion Draft all hurts in one summer. It’s just way too much to lose in a short amount of time. Obviously keeping all of them would have been difficult, but keeping at least half would have been reasonable. Currently, we are not looking like a playoff team on paper.
While our defense is fine (more than enough depth), it’s our forward group that scares me. More specifically, on the wing. We need replacements for the four players mentioned above. We have signed Evgeny Dadonov and Radim Vrbata to contracts which is decent, but more is definitely needed.
We certainly have our minor system to tap into too, but I am not sure many down there will cut it for 82 games. Haapala has an excellent shot of making the team, but again, he will need to prove himself when the season starts. We can also look at our recent #10 pick in the draft, Owen Tippett.
Owen can certainly develop into a nice scoring option, but it would be best if he returns to Junior for further development. There is always the chance of Dale giving him a 9 game tryout to see if he cuts it. Preferably though, I believe he should spend another year in junior before making the leap.
In terms of what’s left on the market, there are still a couple of options. Firstly, you could offer Radulov a deal. Alexander would definitely be another scoring threat for the Cats. Problem is, the money and term he asking for. The 31-year-old is seeking a six-year deal, with an average annual salary of $7million. I wouldn’t go down that road.
There’s also the possibility of re-signing Thomas Vanek. I’m sure not too many teams will be offering Vanek a contract. A one year deal at a reasonable price should be able to convince him. Thomas is another good scoring presence to have. Especially on the third line.
Last but not least, you have Drew Stafford, Jarome Iginla, and Shane Doan. Iginla and Doan who are already 40, may be a bit of a gamble. Both certainly do not have speed, but could be good placeholders for the bottom two lines if nothing can be found. Nothing more than a one year deal should be offered. Stafford would also likely be a decent addition for the bottom line. Doesn’t offer much, but could be good enough to fill a role.
Overall, there isn’t much remaining and the Panthers better jump on what’s left. There’s a lot to be done in regards to filling in the holes on the wing.