« The Panthers Have Their Man: Jonathan Huberdeau | Main | Florida Panthers Draft Notebook: Nugent-Hopkins No. 1; Connor Murphy -- Gord's Kid -- Goes 20th to Phoenix »

Florida Panthers to Land Brian Campbell? Dale Tallon Mum on Rostislav Olesz Trade to Chicago

CAMPBELL ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Just as it appeared the opening day of the NHL draft was going to be uneventful for the Panthers, Dale Tallon appeared to be on the verge of pulling off a big deal.

Canada's TSN reported that Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell had agreed to waive his no-trade clause to come to the Panthers. The much maligned Rostislav Olesz was expected to be heading to Chicago in return.

Tallon said that the deal was not done and wouldn't comment on it further.

“Nothing is official yet,'' Tallon said. “It's not official yet. It's in the works.''

With Campbell comes a huge contract, one that Tallon signed when he was general manager of the Blackhawks. Campbell, 32, is set to make $7.1 million in each of the next five seasons. 

Olesz is also a highly paid player, with a cap hit of $3.1 million in each of the next three seasons. Olesz will actually make substantially more than that number – he'll be paid over $4 million in the final two years of the contract -- in real salary.

The Panthers need to spend around $30 million to reach the league-mandated salary cap floor this season. Getting Campbell on board goes a long way in fulfilling those obligations. 

Campbell spent his first eight NHL seasons with Buffalo before being traded to San Jose in 2008 to help the Sharks' playoff run. Campbell then signed the large eight-year deal worth over $57 million with Tallon and the Blackhawks later that summer. 

Some have said Campbell hasn't lived up to the big contract, scoring 19 goals with 108 assists. But he did help the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010 as he was strong throughout the postseason. Tallon seems to be of the mind that he would sign that contract again.

“He played 28 minutes a game, has offense, can skate the puck out of your zone, skate like the wind,'' Tallon said when asked what he liked about Campbell's game in 2007.

“He can skate all night long and a lot of teams don't have that. .-.-. Whatever market value is at that time, it was an important signing for the [Chicago] franchise. It told everyone in Chicago and in the league that the Blackhawks were making a commitment to win. That's what that statement was.'' 

Earlier in the night, the Panthers used the third overall selection to take center Jonathan Huberdeau. 

Instead of dealing the third pick, the Panthers stood pat and took a forward with their first pick for the first time since Michael Frolik went 10th in 2006.

Before taking Huberdeau, the Panthers spent their past four top picks on defensemen or goaltenders. 

Huberdeau, a native of Quebec who played junior hockey in English-speaking New Brunswick, said he is excited about the opportunity to join a Panthers organization that is young and needs plenty of help.

“It's a great feeling to be called for Florida. It's a great team,'' said Huberdeau, who scored 58 goals with 82 assists over the past two seasons.

“It's a dream since you're young, and now to get called it's a foot in the door to make the NHL. I can't ask for anything more this season.I did everything on the ice I had to do for the Memorial Cup, so that was great, and I'm happy that Florida took me.

"I've always had that dream to be drafted in the NHL and to go to the rink and always have fun. You need to have fun if you want to play hockey, and that's what I'm doing right now.''

Huberdeau has been impressive in his junior career, with the Panthers seeing an eyeful of the 6-foot-1 playmaker during the Canadian national tournament last month. Huberdeau earned Memorial Cup MVP honors as he led the Saint John Sea Dogs to the title by scoring three goals with three assists. 

With the draft so close to the Memorial Cup, Huberdeau said he didn't get to celebrate as much as he wanted to. 

A good showing in training camp this fall, and he won't get a chance to defend his championship as he could play for the Panthers this season. Huberdeau knows it's probable that he'll be returned to his junior team for more seasoning this year – both Tallon and assistant GM Mike Santos say the days of rushing prospects in Florida is over. 

Yet the thought of wearing the new Panthers jersey next season instead of returning to his junior team will fuel his offseason workouts. Huberdeau is expected to be part of the Panthers development camp held at the team's training facility in Coral Springs next month. It's the first step in him realizing his dream of playing in the NHL. 

“I think I had a good season,'' Huberdeau said. “I'm going to work very hard to get stronger this summer and everything to get ready for Florida training camp.''

Comments