With each loss these Florida Panthers endure, the more rumors kick up and out. JM and Mike Keenan heard all this stuff last year, and instead of trading away guys as had been the story, they signed Olli Jokinen to a four-year deal, inked Chris Gratton to a two-year extension and grabbed Ric Jackman from Pittsburgh.
No one, including myself, is saying the Panthers are about to sign some of their top young players to long-term deals this Feb. 27. But if JM truly thinks this team is a playoff contender, he'll stand pat and might trade FOR a player or two.
That said, I think guys are going to be shipped out by the trading deadline. Not the young guys whom the Panthers are banking on for the future, but veteran players who would be beneficial to someone in a legitimate playoff race. Players like Martin Gelinas, Gary Roberts, Ed Belfour and even maybe Todd Bertuzzi. The latest rumor has Big Bert going to Detroit. Dude hasn't played since October, so I'm betting the Wings haven't offered anything huge just yet. I think JM thinks he can resign Bertuzzi in the offseason, and that'll be much easier if he's, you know, actually here. If the Panthers trade Bert and hope to get him back in the summer, well, good luck. It almost never works like that.
-- Thanks to all those who have been sharing their 1996 Stanley Cup memories on the post below. Getting some good stuff. Going to keep the contest going for another week. Keep 'em coming.
Juraj Kolnik and Jozef Stumpel both out after getting hurt Tuesday in Colorado. Kolnik had a root canal yesterday, and according to JM, is due another. So he might still be out Saturday against dem Desert Dogs. Stumpel (shoulder) is day to day. Aren't we all?
-- Kamil Kreps comes up to replace Stumpel in the lineup.
-- Eddie Belfour back in net. Silently.
-- Don't be surprised if Bert is back in the lineup Saturday night. Just a hunch. JM is still saying next week.
-- Have Red Deer and Goldie sitting behind me. It's like listening to WQAM only without the delay and the Spanish music. They send their best.