« Surprising News | Main | Dale Tallon: Maturity (and a budget) Brought Panthers Patience on Day 1 ... Sexton, Birch Out »

Hey! Panthers Looking for Free Agents Too

Lebron As the Miami Heat try and keep Dwyane Wade and possibly add a couple more superstars to its roster when the NBA's free agency period finally opens Thursday morning, the Panthers will go about their business a little quieter and much more under the radar.

Yes, Thursday is the start of the NHL's free agency period as well.

The Panthers aren't expected to make an offer to LeBron James. Or Ilya Kovalchuk, either. Florida will likely add a few pieces to its roster – a center, a couple of forwards, a defenseman – in the coming weeks.

Just don't expect any superstar additions to the team from Sunrise.

“I don't know how aggressive we're going to be, but we're going to try to get better and find players who make sense for us at this time,'' said general manager Dale Tallon, whose team has 17 NHL regulars under contract for next season.

“I don't think we're going after the top guys, but good guys that can help us and not affect our future.''

The Panthers were about $7 million under the salary cap last season and are currently about $12 million under this year's cap of $59.4 million. Florida still needs to sign a couple of its restricted free agents, but are said to have a budget under what was spent last season.

So, even thought the Panthers are flush with cash under the cap, that doesn't mean they are going to spend it.

“We're going to look at everything and everyone,'' Tallon said. “It's important that we get better. A lot of guys are signed to long term deals so it's harder to find that blue chip guy at the right price.''

Last year, with the team's ownership in flux, the Panthers were very quiet in the free agency period. Florida signed defensemen Ville Koistinen and goalie Scott Clemmensen on the opening day of trading, later adding Jordan Leopold, Dominic Moore and Dennis Seidenberg.

Only Clemmensen remains; Leopold, Moore and Seidenberg were traded away last season with the final year of Koistinen's contract bought out after he cleared waivers.

Koistinen will count about $267,000 against the cap this upcoming season. “He didn't work out,'' Tallon says. “That happens. We'll move forward and move on.''

-- The Panthers will hold their rookie camp at their training facility in Coral Springs in the week prior to training camp. The Panthers are scheduled to open camp on Sept. 10.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I hear a certain center that wears #12 is available, could be a consideration to come back.

Thank you, GR! A center, a couple forwards and a defenseman is more than what I expected actually. It'll be interesting to see what happens tomororw. I'm hoping that center is Lombardi - he fits the Tallon mold & had a breakout year. He'd be the ideal 2nd line center. If not, maybe Belanger from Minnesota can hold it down until our prospects are ready.

we don't need #12, we need people that are playing for the logo on the front of the shirt and are willing to work hard for the good of the team.

Don't need to go backwards we need to continue to clean house and the attitude with the long range plan of winning the cup

The part that scares me is the budget is lower, if it is just the salary budget that is fine, however, if it is scouting and development then we will have problems.

The panthers currently have less scouts then the Petersborough Petes.

I really don't care if Olli is brought back on a 2 year deal or 1 year. We need someone who can score & create scoring chances until our prospects grow up. I know a lot of people have strong feelings about Olli, but if it's the right price then he's a good option that won't affect our future.

I'd prefer a guy like Lombardi who's younger, has more upside, and fits with what the team likes (i.e. size & speed), but I doubt we'll getting into the bidding war that he's likely to cause due to lack of centers available.

anyone know if the rookie camp is available to the public?

I don't think the Panthers should bother getting in any bidding wars now. Nor do I think Tallon will. He's still weeding things out, and yes there's more to be done...

The problem with getting in bidding wars is that you take the risk of getting stuck with bad contracts if it doesn't work out, and we already have enough bad contracts we're still trying to get rid of...

Sure I'd like to see if we could get Colby Armstrong, Lombardi, Gonchar, or Volchenkov, but the risk isn't worth the reward... We're still rebuilding, and patience is needed. Plan on a lottery pick, and anything else is gravy. I think the only way we get ahead is through trades, but other teams will probably be a bit leary dealing with Tallon...

Tallon's willing to take risks, and that's good, becasue we still shouldn't feel like anyone's untouchable. As far as free agents, I'd like to see a character FWD like Adam Burish could be brought in, and also should be reasonably priced($1.5 mill/yr)... Also some more grit and toughness in guys like Aaron Asham or Jody Shelley if he hasn't already signed with the Rangers... Olli only if PDB is onboard with it and willing to work with him..

If we're going to suck it would be nice to see guys who can fight and keep people entertained... Jody Shelley would fit that mold.

Lombardi would definately be good. Jokinen not so good. His ability went downhill. Alexander Frolov could add some scoring. Without Horton this team will have even less scoring than last year and last year they struggled to score. Bernier & Grabner together won't score as many goals as Horton. Panthers need to get some scoring or this will be another difficult year to watch.

Let us struggle. Like the NFL and other leagues with salary caps, you have to hit the bottom before making it back to the top. Check out how bad the Flyers & Blackhawks were just a few years ago. Only certain teams (ie Detroit) always stay on top. We could be good (not great) for 20 years straight, ask the Dolphins how many Super Bowls they've won. Yet they had one of the best records over the last 20 years.

Lombardi(C) and Tallinder(D) would do me juuuust fine. Neither is considered a "top-tier" FA, and both fit the "team first" mentality that this club needs to have both on the ice, and in the dressing room, IMO.

I like Olli, and he's a classic case of a player drafted in the top 5(he went 4th overall to L.A.) that needed more than a couple of years to "get it", but, IMO, there is no place for him here anymore. He's a good offensive player, and can get you 20-30 goals and perhaps 50-60 pts(if he plays 82), but I just think that ship has sailed.

No, no, and no to Frolov(lazy=Horton), Afinogenov, and Cheechoo... The others in Lombardi, Ponikarovsky, and Jokinen could be logical, but only at reasonable prices... Problem being there is centers like Lombardi are in demand by many, so someone will end up overpaying there... I like Ponikarovsky, but not sure he's the best fit for the Panthers... He'd be better on a grittier team that mainly needs scoring...

I think the Panthers should concentrate on grit first in free agency, then things should open up for some of our softer fwds... Guys I would suggest would be Burish, Asham, and Jody Shelley for team toughness...Colby Armstrong would be nice, but like Lombardi, someone will end up overpaying...

The only gritty guys the Panthers have now are Booth, Bitz, and McArdle. Considering Booth is really supposed to be our top scorer, we really only have 2. I would've liked to see Tarnasky resigned to add more, but Tallon opted to pass... So a reasonable goal for now would be to at least add 2 or 3 grittier fwds somehow throughout this year. It's not as easy as it sounds, but it should open things up for our softer, supposed scoring fwds(Weiss,Stillman, Grabner, Frolik, Olesz)... Realisitically, if we could add more grit this year, then next year we could look at spending for a scorer in free agency... Until we add grit, I think we're just wasting $$$... None of the coveted free agents will want to come here until we make more strides and clean out more crap, so we're probably still a good year away from that...maybe 2...Sorry, the TRUTH hurts...

On "Home Ice" this morning, Potvin suggested Whitney should come back here at a discount

I love the direction the cats are heading with Tallon at the wheel but can somone explain to me why isn't Vokun out of here? I year left on a 6mil contract. he surly isn't in their plans.
Get what you can get and use those assets moving forward

hank, two reasons: Vokoun has a no-trade clause. I think it's solid all the way through the end (no gap days where the team can move him). Also, there's a glut of goalies on the market. Even with the Blues taking Halak off Montreal's hands, there are a lot of netminders looking for nets to mind. Dealing Vokoun now wouldn't be advantageous for the Panthers since his value would be depressed in the current market. Right now he's more valuable as a cat.

If the Panthers are out of contention by the trade deadline, expect that to change. They won't let him go for nothing.

Forget Booth, he went down again at the end of last season. I don't expect him to play much, one hit and he is out. Panthers have Weiss and a lot of hope. Hope Frolik can do better or match last year, hope Bernier an annual flop isn't a flop again. Hope Grabner can match Frolik. If Tallon doesn't get some scoring this team will fail again, worse than last year. What Tallon does today is what to expect of the year. If he sits on his hands,this team will stink.

Canes1 "you have to hit the bottom before making it back to the top."
Where have you been? Panthers have been at the bottom for the last decade and this year looks no better than the last 10 years.

Apparently, there are no takers for Vokouns salary, and Tallon hasn't gotten an offer that he would consider "market value" for a top-5 goalie.

Vokoun is an asset you hold, until you get a playoff-caliber team on-the-hook that has an injury, or a team that has all the other pieces in place and needs a top netminder to make a playoff run.

I also thought that we should shed Vokouns salary and get whatever we can for him before the draft, but there are always 2 sides to every negotiation, and if the team your offering Vokoun to(or vice versa) is offering you a few used sticks and a bag of pucks for him, then you wait until the market...and the desperation of the situation...dictate a higher value. The glut of netminders available as UFA's will drive down the cost, and no GM, no matter how good Vokoun may be, is gonna give up one or two top tier prospects, a top four forward, and a first or second round draft pick if he doesn't have to...not RIGHT NOW, anyway.

I personally also believe that that Tallon KNOWS that having Vokoun between the pipes...while expensive, and while it kinda amounts to trying to plug a leaking damn with your fingers....is the ONLY real thing that gives The Panthers a chance to be even semi-competitive this year, while finding out if Markstrom can play in The NHL.

I agree that Vokun will be used as bait by the free trade deadline if we aren't in competition for a spot. He won't be let go for almost nothing like Bouwmeester.

Read an intersting article on Olli:


I'd gladly welcome Olli, but it would have to be for a very reduced price.

Considering that the UFA's are well known, and have been discissed AD NAUSEAM, and just cause I'm curious to know everyone's thoughts on the matter....If you were Dale Tallon, and you had(hypothetically) the money to spend, and there would be no negative repercussions, what RESTRICTED FA would you make an offer to, that you knew the other team wouldn't be able to match?

Bobby Ryan would be the obvious choice, but I think 95% of the GMs don't agree with the practice. I think they agree you build your own team through the draft, and if you can't do that, then you aren't good enough to be an NHL GM....

Edmonton tried a couple times when it first came out with offers on Vanek and Penner. Word seemed to spread around that it was more like dirty politics, and most teams don't do that stuff anymore... Basically, even Edmonton has stopped as they realize if they want to have good relations with the other GMs for trades, they better back off....

Puckbubba - Agree that we've been down, but not quite far enough is what i meant. I'm talking "true" bottom, not the 9, 10, or 11th team. finishing 2 to 6 points out of playoffs is like going 8 - 8 in football. With the exception of last year, the Panthers were an above 500 team the previous two years.
Last year they had more points than any other team that did not make the playoffs. That was a freak year and ordinarily would have ended this streak they are on

This team is not very good and won't be for several more years, so we're not going to sign anyone that puts people in the seats today. Even us hardcore fans will be disappointed by free agency. I don't even care. I'd rather get a top 3 pick next year again and keep rebuilding through the draft, then make a FA splash in 2-3 years when our young guys are ready to play in the NHL.

Well Tallinder was scooped up by The Devils, and...especially after what The Pens gave Paul Martin...I think Lou and The Devils got a pretty good player market-wise.

Still nothing yet on Lombardi, but I'm not holding my breath.

I essentially agree with you Slap Shot, it's just damn disheartening, IMO. I just don't think Matthias is ready to be a full-time center in the NHL, and with Kreps and Campbell no longer here, the cupboard at center is currently bare after Weiss and Reinprecht.

Yeah, this is just an awful feeling knowing we're going to be at the bottom of the barrel again this year. Olli goes back to Calgary at a salary on par with Olesz's. Whitney goes to Phoenix (wow) for 2 years. Lydman was another guy I thought maybe we would bring in, but he's going to Anaheim. Volchenkov signs for 4.25 a year in NJ, which is a very cap friendly deal although for 6 years. It's just pathetic. We aren't seeing eye-popping numbers here for the most part. Some guys are getting overpaid, but overall the market value has been pretty average.

I still can't believe the Rags gave the Boogeyman a 4 year deal. HAHAHA!

....I wasn't expecting much, but sheesh its quiet. Although I have mixed feelings, I was really expecting to see Olli back, which made waaaaaay more sense than the odds of seeing him back in Calgary! I think he would have even stayed in FL if he was offered a fraction of the Flames' offer.

I say Tallon should hurry up and make an offer to Sutter for Borque and Iginla for Olesz and Stillman before he comes back to his senses, LOL.

I have a hard time feeling bad about ANY of the bone-headed moves Sather makes. I equate it to not feeling bad for a guy that doesn't use protection and catches something incurable at a house of ill-repute during Mardi Gras, it's just not within me.

The comments to this entry are closed.