The Panthers swung a deal tonight and traded veteran center Chris Gratton to Tampa Bay. While I hate to see Chris go, I sure am not surprised. JM confirmed he tried swinging a deal with the Lightning at last season's trade deadline, only decided he didn't want to disrupt the team's dynamic too much as he felt the team still had a chance to make the post season.
Chris spent a good part of last season in Jim's doghouse, but despite that, I thought he would be back this year because at $1.5 million, he still does a lot of good things. Obviously the Lightning agree with me as Chris returns there for a third go-round. "This is good for Chris,'' JM told me. "He's going somewhere where he's wanted.''
Obviously he wasn't wanted here. JM also indicated that Jozef Stumpel will most likely return although he seemed to hedge on Martin Gelinas (JM thinks Marty is going to play next season, he's just not sure it's going to be in SoFla).
I'm going to miss Chris because he was a cool guy with a personality. He spoke his mind, perhaps one reason why he got into trouble with JM sometimes. Chris has always had to live up to the potential folks saw in him when he was drafted third overall in 1993 by the Bolts, and while he hasn't done so, that doesn't mean he hasn't had a career to be proud of -- and one many players in the league would love to have had.
Feel free to leave any comments on this deal, one that seems to have worked out in Florida's favor. The Panthers not only shed $1.5 million in salary, but they get a second round pick in return. Not bad.
As Chris would always say, thanks guys.