Florida Panthers stood pat at the Trade Deadline, which is what they needed to do

MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 17: Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon speaks during a Q
MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 17: Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon speaks during a Q /

As the Florida Panthers started to catch fire in February, rumors began to swirl as to what they might do come the trade deadline. As it inched closer, the team was linked to the likes of Ryan McDonagh and Max Pacioretty, which are some fairly big fish, especially in the Panthers’ comparably small pond.

The deadline came and went, and the Panthers ended up standing pat, though not for a lack of effort. While it seems the Panthers might have blown an opportunity at this deadline to make a splash and seriously push for the playoffs, what they actually did was set themselves up for a very bright future without sacrificing anything today.

Max Pacioretty ended up not being traded, and McDonagh went to Tampa for a total of five pieces, which included potentially two first round picks and two prospects, which is not something the Panthers could afford at this stage. Dale Tallon admitted as much when he met the media:

Borgstrom is the best prospect in the organization, and figures to play a huge role on the team as soon as next season. Giving him up for McDonagh or Pacioretty right now in any deal would have been a massive mistake, and Tallon certainly knew that.

And since the Panthers aren’t exactly flush with a flowing pipeline of prospects, certainly not to the levels of teams like Tampa, Winnipeg and Boston are, showing restraint offers the Panthers a chance to improve markedly next season when some of those prospects make their jump.

While it might seem like Tallon is throwing away a potential playoff push this season, what they’ve done is managed their assets well considering their circumstances. They’re in contention because of how their schedule has played out, as well as the pack from the Metropolitan Division falling back to earth fast, and this comes without any major alterations to the roster.

And if you caught Tallon or anyone in the front office in a candid moment, they’d probably tell you that the Panthers being in this position now has allowed the team to play with house money. They’re contenders for the playoffs in spite of their myriad of deficiencies, which even at the trade deadline, they couldn’t entirely fix.

It’s not as if the pack did much to set themselves apart in the wild card race either. Columbus added Ian Cole, Mark Letestu and Thomas Vanek, who are nice pieces, but not ones that change the dynamic of a playoff race themselves.

New Jersey added a couple of rental wingers to beef up their depth, and both the Islanders and Hurricanes essentially stood pat. Florida was catching up anyway, and it’s not as if these moves suddenly take those teams into another league.

More from Editorials

Should the Cats make the playoffs, they’d likely end up facing the Atlantic division winner, which is likely Tampa or Boston. The likelihood of them winning a series against them is slim, so what would the point be in mortgaging the future for a couple of home playoff dates?

Florida is in essence the fourth best team in the Atlantic standing still, with the potential of even more growth next season. Giving up a whole host of futures for a series in which the Panthers are decided underdogs that they may not get to doesn’t make much sense as the team tries to be sustainably successful.

Would they have been better with McDonagh and Pacioretty in town? Certainly. But would it permanently alter the franchise for better and worse? Yes, and with the Cats potentially on the cusp of true long term success, giving it up for one run right now doesn’t make sense, and Dale Tallon viewed what fast became a seller’s market this way. He’ll be able to go back for Pacioretty or another top six winger in the summer and make a deal in which his hand isn’t really forced.

For a team that has been so good in February, Dale Tallon made a bold decision to not go all in and buy into his team’s own hype, and instead watch a season that took a dramatic turn for the better play itself out organically without ripping assets out of the team’s cupboard and potentially ruining the team’s future.

It’s a mild surprise the Panthers are contenders in March, and to be here this fast is an accomplishment that can’t be forgotten. If they don’t make the playoffs this season, it’s not as if they’ve failed miserably or wasted an opportunity.

They’ve already laid the foundation for a major step forward next year, and trades of a major magnitude may have thrown that away for little reward this season.

Next: How Aleksander Barkov has revitalized the future of the Florida Panthers

Tallon’s decision to back away may be one in hindsight that Panthers fans come to appreciate more, because it may just be the move that sets a great era for the team in faster motion.