Lower Cap Ceiling Opens Up More Possibilities For The Florida Panthers

Free agency begins tomorrow July 1st, and with the slightly lower than anticipated cap ceiling that was announced by the NHL, there are some teams that currently find themselves close to or over the limit.  The expected cap ceiling for this coming season was $71 million, however it was announced on Friday that the league has settled in at $69 million.  This is a little more than $5 million above last years number of $64.3 million.  The salary cap floor came in at $51 million for the upcoming season.  Both numbers give the Florida Panthers room to spend, and it is anticipated that general manager Dale Tallon will be extremely busy.

The Panthers currently sit at slightly over $40 million going into Tuesday’s frenzy (according to Cap Geek), and while the Panthers have money to burn on free agents, the lower cap number also opens up some trade possibilities.  Tallon has already said that he would like to acquire at least 2 defencemen, as well as 2 forwards to fill some much needed holes.  Looking to acquire much needed scoring, and some veteran leadership on the blueline to mix in with the promising youth of the club is how the Panthers are approaching this off season.

Teams that are in trouble with regards to the cap ceiling include the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.  These teams are either over the cap currently, or will need to shed some salary in order to sign players for the up coming season, thus opening up a multitude of trade opportunities league wide.  The Penguins for example have nine players to sign, and only 13 million of cap space.  Not a good deal of wiggle room leading one to believe that something’s going to happen.

In Toronto there is talk that ex Blackhawk Dave Bolland will hit the market, and Bolland and Tallon are acquaintances from Chicago, however, Bolland is a center, and the Panthers for once seem to be deep at that position.  Yet Bolland if healthy could provide some much needed grit at the right price (keyword: at the right price)

Besides teams making a pitch for such sought after free agents as Tomas Vanek, Mike Cammelleri, Matt Moulson, Radim Vrbata, Matt Niskanen, and Anton Stralman, trade possibilities add another element to clubs wanting to improve as well as having the ability to spend to do so.  The Panthers are certainly one of those teams since they sit near the bottom of the league in payroll.  Last summer when new ownership was sorting out it’s details, Dale Tallon basically had his hands tied, and wasn’t able to make any major acquisitions via trade or free agency.  Things are slated to be different this time, and Dale likely will have his cell phone fully charged.

Let’s be clear.  We are not about rumors.  We never were, and we never will be.  However the wish list, or target list of players that the Panthers can now afford to go after has grown since teams will need to adjust their rosters.  In Chicago, players such as Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya have been talked about as potential candidates to be moved.  Sharp’s agent said however that Sharp isn’t going anywhere, but sometimes that’s the kiss of death.  Oduya on the other hand could be had at the right price.  Chicago would also like to unload Kris Versteeg, but likely won’t find a partner, unless they can hide him in a traded players suitcase.

The Bruins are likely to lose Jarome Iginla to free agency, and could be looking at trading Johnny Boychuck and or Chris Kelly, both of whom make $3 million or more per season.  In Philadelphia Vincent Lecavalier is apparently on the block with 4 years remaining on a $4.5 million dollar deal.  He’s also due a $2 million dollar bonus on July 1st.  There was some discussion on Twitter last night about Vinny, but there’s nothing official on any of it.  Also, it was learned on Sunday that Buffalo’s Christian Erhoff was bought out, making the 31 year old puck moving defenceman one of the top blue liners available.

Jason Spezza has put the Ottawa Senators and GM Bryan Murray in a bind with his trade request.  Problem is, Spezza has a no move clause, which he exercised over the weekend as Murray had a deal in place to send him packing to Nashville.  Other players being shopped could include defencemen Michael Del Zotto in Nashville, and Josh Gorges from the Montreal Canadiens.

While the Panthers are dealing from a point of strength in that money is available, the downside is they’ll likely have to overpay for free agents in order to attract them to South Florida.  Yet the promise of improving youth, could be swaying the minds now of both players and their agents.

As for trading, Dale knows how to wheel and deal.  When he acquired Patrick Sharp for the Blackhawks from the Philadelphia Flyers, no one knew anything about him.  Look at Sharp now as he’s averaged almost 25 goals per season over 9 years.  Dale acquired Sharp for Matt Ellison (who?) and a 3rd round pick.  Does he make a play one more time for hockey’s most handsome winger?

Erhoff and Niskanen or Josh Gorges on defence, with Moulson and a big name acquired in a trade, and who knows…..the weather won’t be the only thing that’s bright about South Florida.

This summer is a fantastic opportunity to make a splash, and begin the process of turning this franchise around.  Get some rest Dale.  We expect you to be very busy.

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankRekas

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Panther Parkway Post-Game: Panthers vs. Bruins

Stars of the game

1st: David Krejci (3G-0A-3P)

2nd: Chad Johnson (23-24 saves – .958 sv%)

3rd: Zdeno Chara (0G-0A-0P)

Goals (Bruins 4, Panthers 1)

BOS: David Krejci (14) Assists: Unassisted

BOS: Jarome Iginla (19) Assists: Jordan Caron, Chris Kelly

BOS: David Krejci (15) Assists: Kevan Miller

FLA: Brian Campbell (6) Assists: Sean Bergenheim

BOS: David Krejci (16) (Empty Net) Assists: Milan Lucic, Jarome Iginla


What could possibly go down as the biggest blockbuster trade of the 2013-2014 season, the Florida Panthers traded G Jacob Markstrom and F Shawn Matthias in exchange for G Roberto Luongo.

Quote of the game

Tweet of the game

Next Up

The Florida Panthers take on the Buffalo Sabres at the BB&T Center, on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Tune into FOX Sports Florida to catch all of the action!

Thanks for reading and we welcome your thoughts in the comments section below!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Game Day Preview: Panthers vs. Bruins. It’ll Be Right, And It’ll Be Tonight.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 21-24-7 (49 PTS.) vs. BOSTON BRUINS: 32-15-3 (67 PTS)


GAME DAY SONG: Night,  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings was a shocker.  For Florida Panther fans the game was almost over. especially when the Red Wings took a 4-2 lead during the final period.  Yet somehow the Panthers scratched and clawed their way back from two separate two goal deficits and managed to tie the game at 4 sending it to overtime.

The Red Wings seemed to control the play during the extra five minutes, and at one point the Panthers looked as though they were about to run out of gas.  But the magnificent goaltending of Tim Thomas kept the game tied sending it to a shootout.

The Panthers would only need a goal by rookie Nick Bjugstad and three stellar saves by Thomas to “steal” the game from the Wings.  It may not have been pretty, but it sure was nervewracking, yet nonetheless the Panthers pulled out a win that they really shouldn’t have.  Coach Peter Horachek was pleased with the end result:

“There were many things we didn’t do right, but we got two points in a character game,” Florida coach Peter Horachek said.

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Five NHL Free Agents Getting A Fresh Start

When I grew up, which admittedly was a long time ago, there was very little player movement and even less of a choice of where to play.  For the early part of my childhood there were only six teams until the 1967-68 season when the amount of clubs doubled.  The NHL added the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins, California Golden Seals, and Los Angeles Kings.  The expansion continued over the years as you can see the entire progression here, giving more opportunity to more players.

However back then, or as @LilMissRatTrick says, “in the old days”, players either stuck with their team for their entire career, or there were a few trades made before and during the season.  But nowhere near the player movement that goes on currently.  Today with free agency acting as Christmas in July on an annual basis, everyone needs to reacquaint themselves with their favorite team.  It’s always interesting to see who goes where, and for how long, and for how much. But I must say that I’m quite surprised sometimes at the locations players actually decide on, and why.  Not here to judge anyone’s particular city of choice, but let’s take a look at five players who’ve moved on from places that in “my day”, would have likely never left.

* Daniel Alfredsson:  This has to be the most surprising move of the summer.  Alfie spent has spent his entire NHL career which has covered 17 seasons and 1178 regular season games playing for the Ottawa Senators.  Not bad for a player drafted in the 6th round, 133rd overall, but what a “shock” to the fan base when it was announced on Friday that the long time captain of the Senators would be leaving the capital of Canada to go play for the Detroit Red Wings.  A place where he feels he’ll have the best chance to win a Stanley Cup.  It will be interesting if the Senators make the playoffs and the Red Wings don’t.

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Eastern Conference Final Preview: Penguins’ Skill vs. Bruins’ Brawn.

Once the post season began, many thought that this would be the conference final that we’d see, and for those of you that like black and gold, or yellow, you’ll be seeing quite a bit of that as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins in game one tonight.  Both teams were looking to improve themselves at the trade deadline as each team was romancing Jarome Iginla, who ultimately chose the Pittsburgh Penguins, as did Brenden Morrow for their destination.

The season series featured three games all won by the Penguins, and all three games being decided by one goal.  Ex-Panther Tomas Vokoun was in net for two of the three games, and will start the opener as coach Dan Bylsma continues to stay with the hot hand after Marc-Andre Fleury proved he couldn’t stop a beach ball.  Not a bad option for Pittsburgh, and should Vokoun falter himself, going back to Fleury will be something Bylsma won’t hesitate to do if he feels it to be the right decision.  The Bruins on the other hand were on the brink of extinction at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round, but somehow found a way to score three goals in the final 10 minutes to tie the score, and then won in overtime to take the series.  Each team was able to dispose of their second round opponent without too much difficulty and are primed to go the distance in their quest for a Stanley Cup final appearance.

Let’s get to it shall we after the page break:

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Panther Parkway Noon Headlines: Iginla, NCAA, DeKeyeser, Top Goalies.

What better way to spend your lunch break than catching up on all of last night’s amazing NHL action that you may have missed! Here are the top stories and videos from the all of yesterday’s action around the NHL.

* First up watch the Jarome Iginla video tribute from the Calgary Flames.

* I think the announcer was pretty certain this was a clean hit. (video). I don’t think it was.

* The Three Stars for Friday night from Puck Daddy.

* Here’s a great way to decide on who to cheer for in the NCAA’s Hockey Tournament.

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Around the NHL: March 29, 2013

What better way to spend your lunch break than catching up on all of last night’s amazing NHL action that you may have missed! Here are the top stories and videos from the all of yesterday’s action around the NHL.

  • Check out Claude Giroux’s Datsyuk’ian shootout goal from last night.

  • A look at the Penguins’ new potential lines….God help us all. [NHL Network]
  • The Phoenix Coyotes scored 6 goals in the 1st period of their game against the Predators. [TSN]
  • The Islanders proved last night why there needs to be some changes in the way shootouts are governed. [Puck Daddy]
  • It’s risky business dealing for recent first-round picks. [Sporting News]
  • Watch Pavel Datsyuk embarrass Logan Couture [Puck Daddy]

Follow All Panther Parkway writers on Twitter: Me @JamesonCoop, Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, Josh Luecht @eyesonsunrise, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530 and David Lasseter @davidlasseter. Visit our Facebook fan page here and give us a like and share anything you wish with us.

The Challenge Of A Short Season

This season which has been reduced to a mere 48 games in approximately 100 days will find players beginning training camp today, or for some yesterday, in various levels of condition.  While many players went to Europe and have a few games under their belt, others may have been playing in the AHL, training with other teammates on their own, or of course sitting at home playing video games while catching up on their intake of Molson Canadian.  Each of the 30 teams in the NHL faces the same challenges as the season begins on Saturday, and in such a short time frame we will find out who is able to handle the workload.  Excuses will be made, but honestly, you can’t use them for failure this time.  However there will be reasons as to why a team didn’t perform to the expectations that they set out for themselves.

The last time the NHL played a short season like this, Florida Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen was a player, which will be a huge advantage in preparing his club for the sprint to the finish line.  While I’m certainly no expert, I would come to surmise that there are a few subtle, as well as major components that can contribute to a teams overall success with this type of schedule.  It will be the ability of the team as a whole, and the players individually to properly grasp these items.  It won’t be easy.

Roster depth will play a significant role specifically with injuries and fatigue.  In the year after the last lockout groin and hamstring injuries ran rampant throughout the league, and this promises to be no different.  It was reported yesterday that Calgary Flames veteran Jarome Iginla was held out of practice as a precaution for a groin injury of his own.  Each team is going to need players that can be called upon from their respective AHL clubs to step in and play quality minutes.  In addition to potential injuries the condensed schedule has created games that will be played back to back, and games that will be played every other night in many cases.  Conditioning will be a very important factor both at the beginning of the season, and at the end of the season.

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He Coulda Been A Florida Panther. Looking Back At Round One Of The 1995 NHL Draft

With the announcement that the Winter Classic has officially been cancelled, thinking of material to hold your interest can get difficult.  However it’s also a time where I can sit back and write about some things that I normally wouldn’t have time for.  This will be a series called “He Coulda Been A Florida Panther”  that will examine the Florida Panthers first round draft picks, and who they “could’ve” drafted instead.  It’s easy to look back and analyze, especially with what is known after the fact, but we need some fun.   Although I think in a few cases, we’ll shed some tears.

Today we take a look back at the 1995 NHL Draft, and with that look comes an uneasy feeling.  The Florida Panthers were able to choose Radek Dvorak with their 10th selection, and while that ultimately turned out to be a fine selection, it’s once again the players, and specifically one player that they didn’t take that one would find intriguing.  Dvorak is second all time in games played for the Panthers with 613, which he accumulated in two separate stints in South Florida.  Dvorak who made the jump from the draft right into NHL action in his first season, was part of the 1995-1996 team that went to the Stanley Cup final against the Colorado Avalanche.  Dvorak played in 77 games in his rookie season, scoring 13 goals and adding 14 assists for 27 points.  In 16 playoff games he had one goal and three assists.

Dvorak became very well known for his defensive play, and his penalty killing skills.  Quick on his feet, a good puck handler with sharp passing skills, Dvorak has had a very respectable NHL career playing for the Panthers, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and the Dallas Stars.  Dvorak is seventh all time on the Panthers scoring list with 268 points in his 613 games.  He is 6th all time in goals with 113.  Dvorak could typically be counted on for 15 goals, and 30 points per season, however one year in New York he scored 31 goals and had 36 assists, which has turned out to be his best season ever in the NHL.  Likeable, respected, and a good teammate, Dvorak has been a solid citizen everywhere he’s played.

[Read more…]

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