General manager Dale Tallon said Saturday night that owner Vinnie Viola has given him "the green light" to spend upward toward the salary cap ceiling next season.
The Panthers, while in the midst of being sold from Cliff Viner to Viola, weren't a free agent player last summer. Tallon says that will change.
Florida, which is asking Broward County to rework its arena lease to free up $63 million in bond payments, is spending about $50 million in salary this year which is near the bottom of the league. The salary cap is expected to be north of $70 million next year.
"I'm excited,'' Tallon said. "We're going to be able to go out there and get the players we need to get.''
One of the promises team president Michael Yormark has made to the Broward commission is that the Panthers will have a payroll "at a level competitive with the rest of the National Hockey League.''
Tallon says they will do more than that in hopes of turning their on-ice fortunes around.
"I'm excited about our future. We not only have great kids, but we know have the ability to go get some players,'' Tallon said. "We're going to be a cap team and that's pretty exciting. We've always scouted players and that hasn't changed. But now we have the freedom to go out and get them.''