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Welcome to the First Monday of Hockey Summer ... Gearing up for the Draft ... What's Going on in Pantherland?

Crosbypirates Happy Monday to all of you in Pantherland. If you are like me, you're a little bummed hockey season is officially over.

Sure, it's been over for a lot of us for a long time, but I'm going to miss watching the great game on television as I have the past couple of months. Guess it's time for some summer vacation -- or, at least, some more summer vacation.

I'm thinking of going fishing. Fishing for golf balls that I hit in the lakes and canals around Broward County that is.

Have been making a few calls and checking on things around the Panthers these past few weeks, but haven't learned much that could be considered earth shattering.

Here are a few nuggets that I have heard. There will be more this week. I know I haven't posted much of late, but that's going to change this week. Keep coming back if you would. Much appreciated.

-- As I wrote last week, the Panthers are expecting to have a lower payroll next year, although it won't be anything near the salary floor as the Tampa Bay Lightning are rumored to be at. Florida loses $2 million right off the bat because of Bryan McCabe's bonus, but that will be absorbed by David Booth's raise. Florida is also losing Jay Bouwmeester's salary, but that will be picked up somewhere else.

Even though Richard Zednik can apparently return to the Panthers, the thought is Florida won't be able to match that money. If Zednik comes back, it's because his wife realizes what Russia is like in the winter compared to Boca. No work on the possible return of Radek Dvorak or Ville Peltonen. I would think one of these three return, possibly two. Florida wants to see what youngsters Shawn Matthias and Michal Repik can do with a legitimate shot to earn a roster slot.

--  A lot has been made of Florida announcing that Pete DeBoer is part of the solution here and the new general manager having to deal with that as a negative. I'm hearing the exact opposite. Pete DeBoer being here in Florida is a positive to the GM candidates. DeBo is looked at as a real rising star in the league, a young coach who is easy to work with.

I have yet to talk to Mr. Torrey, but I'm hearing Rick Dudley and Doug MacLean have already been in talks, and I'm sure Denis Potvin and Mr. Torrey have spoken as well. Former Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough and Minnesota finalist and TV analyst Pierre McGuire are also supposedly in play. The Panthers have apparently been talking to the Minnesota people and getting their thoughts on things, with the NHL's clearinghouse also helping along with the background search stuff.

I know Dudley, Potvin and McGuire would really work well with DeBoer, with the latter two being a big help with off-ice stuff in the community and stuff. I know certain people don't like to hear this, but the game still needs to be sold down here, and Potvin and McGuire -- oh, and especially MacLean -- would be real good at getting out there and helping that out.

Expecting to speak to Mr. Torrey in the coming days and will update. Also hope to speak to Randy Sexton soon -- although he's been a very busy guy. There have been reports that he is not a candidate for this gig, but he's been working real hard behind the scenes the past few years and I don't think that's the case.

-- As far as the ownership thing goes, there have been reports that the SPAG deal is falling apart; I don't think that's true. From what I hear, Alan Cohen is working to get some fresh local money involved to buy out some of his minority partners who want out. I didn't think Mr. Cohen really wanted to get out, but I know some of his partners do. If Mr. Cohen can find local money and remain majority owner, I think that's the route he would rather take. But that may not be feasible, and then the SPAG money comes back into play.

-- More as things pop up, hope you are having a good Monday.

Photo courtesy of Michael Henninger/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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