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And Then It Was Done: NHL Draft Finally Finished

Draftdone LOS ANGELES – The Panthers have been through rebuilding processes before, but aside from the franchise's early days when it was built into a winner, none have brought much success.

Dale Tallon hopes he's the one to help change that. He would like to think he'll someday look back at this past week as the start of a new era for hockey in South Florida.

Time, of course, will tell.

“We have to look at the future and what we're going to do down the road,'' Tallon said. “That's more important than standing still today.''

Tallon took away from the present Panthers in the past few days, but feels he didn't do too much damage. The Panthers plan on rebuilding while still being competitive.

On Tuesday, Tallon traded top offensive threat Nathan Horton to Boston for a defenseman and a high draft pick; Friday, he sent defenseman Keith Ballard to Vancouver for another high pick and exciting winger Michael Grabner as well as Steve Bernier.

Saturday, Tallon added 10 young players to the organizational depth chart in the second and final day of the NHL Draft.

“This was a very good couple of days,'' Tallon said near the end of the proceedings at Staples Center. “We have a good array of players to rebuild our foundation.''

All told, the Panthers had three picks in Friday's opening round and four more in the second and third on Saturday. Florida's 13 overall picks were tied for second most in franchise history, one fewer than the team's inaugural draft class of 1993.

The haul included eight forwards, four defensemen and a goalie.

“We have a lot of fire,'' Tallon said. “I watched a lot of Panthers games when I was in Florida on television and it was an easy game. We don't want to give anyone an easy game. People have to come in and earn their stripes. We don't want a bunch of idiots, we want a real solid team with players who care and are passionate and pay the price to win.''

In the second round, Tallon's first pick was left winger John McFarland, a talented scorer who thought he should have been picked much, much higher. McFarland was considered the 10th best North American skater not too long ago, but his stock had slipped.

McFarland says he's eager to prove he should have been taken in the first round. He wants to begin doing that when the Panthers hold rookie camp at the end of the summer.

“I'm glad it fell into place with Florida,'' said McFarland, who scored 50 points off 20 goals with Sudbury, Ontario, of the Canadian junior leagues last year. “Things happen, it's happened to many people before me who expected to go earlier than they did. It's disappointing, but today's a new day. There's a little more motivation than there was before.''

Tallon says he loves McFarland's grit and determination, saying he hopes he comes to camp with a little chip on his shoulder. “He's got a little nastiness to him,'' Tallon said.

Scott Luce, the Panthers director of amateur scouting, says the McFarland is probably a year away from competing for a roster spot with the Panthers, Tallon indicated all who come to training camp have a chance to make the Panthers in the fall.

If you play, Tallon said, the sky is the limit.

“I don't care how old you are or where you're from,'' Tallon said. “Everyone is going to get an equal opportunity to play for the Florida Panthers next year. If your 18 and make our team? Great. If not, go back to junior and be successful in the future.''

One of those players who will have a chance to make the team in the coming years is defenseman Alexander Petrovic. The Panthers took the 6-foot-4 bruiser from Red Deer, Alberta, just three selections after McFarland.

Petrovic is another player who came to the L.A. arena on Friday night expecting to go home with a team's jersey – only to leave disappointed and being forced to wait until the draft's second day. His wait on Saturday wasn't long at all.

“You get a little mad because you are competitive and want to go in the first round,'' Petrovic said. “I woke up with a smile on my face knowing I was going to be drafted. The pressure is off my shoulders. But it's huge motivation to prove some of those teams wrong.''

Comments

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This was a very significant day for Panthers. Hope Petrovic and McFarland are extra motivated when rookie camp starts. They should be they have a better opportunity to make the Panthers roster than most NHL teams.

The Cats drafted 5 guys in The Hockey News top 24 if that is any indication where this class is at this stage.

The class for the future looks good. We now have high-end prospects at almost every position. However, the prospects for this coming season are still not looking so good IMO. I don't think we're going to spend any money in free agency to make this a team that can compete for a playoff spot this season. I hope Tallon proves me wrong and surprises.

They saved money by moving Ballard, but the money they saved by moving him is now taken up by Wideman, albeit not as much as Ballard, but enough to make it a wash in salary. If they plan on making ANY real substantial moves in FA, they're gonna have to move more salary. The most likely candidates would be Stillman and/or Olesz. Now, moving Olsez, given his current contract, injury history, and overall lack of production, is next to impossible. Moving Stillman, now that's not likely either, there's just not much of a market for him before the season starts, IMO. Considering that The Cats were about 4-5 million under the cap before the Ballard trade and before the draft, I just don't see...unless Tallon actually gets that "blow me away" offer for Vokoun...where the money will come from to make any moves above just 3rd and 4th line players. If you look at the roster currently, your potential lines look like this

Booth/Weiss/Grabner

Frolik/Reinprecht/Bernier

Stillman/Matthias/Dvorak

Olesz/Kreps/Tarnasky

Of course I'm only speculating, and going off of what's currently on the roster(I think Tarnasky is officially a UFA and would need to be resigned) and 3rd and 4th line guys can be found from within your own farm system, or on the cheap in the UFA market, but the more I look at things from a financial point of view, I really don't see how much more this roster could be significantly altered unless someone else was moved....and something also tells me that if that kind of particular move COULD have been made(see Ballard and Horton), it would have been by now.

Just my 2 cents.

Kreps (went to europe), Tarnasky(no contract offered) are out.

I could see the panthers picking up a fourth line center and a second line forward through free agency. Also McArdle might break into the NHL or at least get frequent callups. Repik also should be figured into the line up. But the glaring whole now is to replace Horton size in the lineup.

People are expecting too much from Grabner too soon in his tenure as a Panther. He scored 5 goals in 20 games, but three of those were in one game. More consistency is needed before being handed a top line spot.

Mase, the cap increased for one. Two, dumping Horton and bringing in Wideman was a wash in salaries, but dumping Ballard freed up roughly $2 million.

Tallon had a solid draft, restocking the farm. Another year or two of this, and the Panthers will be able to start replacing the players who price themselves out of this market.

Now its time for some shrewd free agent signings. Not the bloated contracts for players like Huet and Campbell. Short term deals for guys needing to prove why they still belong in the league. Not signing a Kovalchuk type. He might but butts in the seats, ala Bure, but he'll kill the money side of the franchise.

Looking at the lines above and subtracting Tarnasky and Kreps, it looks very depressing for next year.Olesz has a terrible contract and is subpar on the ice; Stillman is not a checker so he sits on the fourth line and plays powerplay. Less goals unless Booth and Frolik light it up. But with Tallon patience is the key.

Exactly, the cupboard is pretty much bare, unfortunately.

The point I was trying to make is that there isn't much money under the cap to make a move with the 1st line at all, so it looks like Booth, Weiss, & Frolik are gonna have to be the 1st scoring line, and The Cats are gonna have to solely rely on speed and transition to consistently score goals, cause they have little to no size at forward outside of Bernier, now.

Thanks for setting me straight with regards to Kreps, Kittens. I hope they resign Tarnasky.

I certainly don't expect much from Grabner, but I also don't see anyone else CURRENTLY on the roster who can put the puck in the net, and has actually played in the NHL, albeit for only a few games. Repik certainly isn't better than Grabner right now, and neither is McArdle. Dvorak's days as a 2nd liner are long gone, and while he's still great on the PK, and as a solid 3rd like "energy" guy, he's not the answer. Stillman is an injury waiting to happen, which is unfortunate, because he's shown that, when he's actually on the ice, he can still contribute points.

I still have faith in Tallon, and I know that he's FAR from done reshaping this roster. I also know that A LOT is set to happen between now and the opening of training camp, so I'm cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season. I think we all just have to have an open mind and understand that what Dale is doing is more geared toward 2-3 years from now, more than it is for the here and now.

Tallon is making a long term plan, it is the first GM we have had in a long time with a plan and not the season by season plans of the past.

He will make mistakes but you have to like that he is willing to take risks and not sit back and do nothing

The Hawks weren't built in a day and neither will the panthers, we had 3 or 4 assets, we haven't had a NHL quality team here in years, we were too soft and we need to make South Florida a hard place to play.

Yes Tallon doesn't sit back and think things will correct themselves... He's pro-active with any eye for talent... And he'll give anyone a chance to prove themselves, and show that they have the character to represent what he wants from his hockey team...

You have to love that he doesn't dispell a draft pick from proving everyone else wrong... He's not tied to guys that have been here. Weiss is one of PDB's guys, but he's still listening to offers... I like that. And Horton's gone now, probably whether he wanted to stay or not, so that alone is enough to make me believe in the guy...

By the way, I don't think Repik ever makes it. I wish they would've resigned Tarnasky, so I hope he has a plan to get a forward to add flair, excitement, and protection... McArdle and Bitz are energy guys, but we could still use a Janssen, Orr, Carcillo, or Rupp to send some messages...

You gotta remember that Ballard and Horton had some long contracts. Wideman has a much shorter contract. Also, Stillman's contract expires soon and so does Vokoun's. The only real contract that is big and not going away is Olesz's. You've gotta remember that we prolly won't see results for another year or 2, and in another year or 2 Stillman, Vokoun, and Wideman all expire, opening up a ton of cap space. I'd imagine that by then, Markstrom will step in, and he should initially be a lot cheaper. If things go right, in about 1-2 yrs, we could have a really good core, combined with a really good free agent signing (look at how he grabbed Hossa right when all the young players were beginning to blossom in Chicago).

I would like to know what the Panthers' interpretation of rebuilding while staying competitive is though. We've got plenty of cap space but are we going to sign anyone to help this year until all those prospects are ready? Or do we just accept we're not going to be a playoff competitive team this year and go for a top pick again?

As it stands at the moment, The Cats have $13, 974,166.00(close to 14 million) under the cap with 19 players under contract(as per CapGeek.com).

Now, considering what kind of roster size Tallon is looking for(I believe the max # is 23 players), and who is available in UFA, they're in relatively good shape, IMO.

That being said, I still don't think any overly "significant" moves will be made in UFA, and by significant, I mean a Kovalchuk or Volchenkov type salary(which I'm not to sure I'd want anyway, to be honest). What you might see...and I certainly am NO expert...are players in the Scott Walker/Arron Asham/Craig Conroy type players on short 1-2 year contracts, who come with smaller price tags but have a lot of experience, toughness, and CHARACTER. Veteran players that have been successful, and can come in and show some of the younger guys currently on the roster...and the ones now in the system...how the game should be played....Cory Stillman used to be one of the those guys, now he's more inclined to hurt himself taking a golf swing.

They're going to try to compete, but realistically they know they don't have the firepower to be a competitive playoff team... Give them credit for rebuilding. Maybe we hang in there for a few months before they fall back later in the year, but it's a rarity to pull off what Phoenix did this year...

The good thing about the NHL and the Cap is that it lets you rebuild much quicker than other sports, but we're rebuilding the whole ORGANIZATION, which also means adding depth to our affiliate... Right now, we don't have much for solid prospects. You can say names like Ellerby, Robak, and Repik, but it doesn't seem like they have what it takes...

So even if we're still a lottery pick next year, it's not that bad, as long as we're progressing and TRULY building for the future. Tallon's doing great getting out of as many prior contracts as he can... Then he can do it his way, so patience...

does anybody know when rookie camp ???

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