« FREE AGENT FRENZY: Florida Panthers busy early on in signing Bolland, J.Jokinen, Thornton, MacKenzie and Montoya | Main | CAMP DAYS: Panthers to hold development camp in Coral Springs next week »

NEW LOOK FOR PANTHERS: Tallon signs six on opening day of free agency

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
Dale Tallon wasn't as busy on the opening of the NHL's free agency period Tuesday afternoon as he was in 2011 although it was real close.
The Panthers signed five players within the first 90 minutes of the floodgates opening and brought in six by end of the work day.
Tallon signed four forwards, a defenseman and a goalie -- adding more than $17 million in payroll toward the coming season.
Not long after signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Willie Mitchell from Los Angeles, Tallon said he was going to take a little break from the frenzy. "We're going to sit back,'' Tallon said.
The Panthers also added forwards David Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Shawn Thornton and Derek MacKenzie as well as goalie Al Montoya.
"It was a great day for our franchise and we exceeded expectations,'' said Tallon, who signed seven new players on the first day of free agency in 2011 which led to the team's first postseason berth in over a decade.
"We identified a number of players and we got them all, basically. I've never had that before. The guys we identified we ended up getting. We had needs we had to address.''
A few minutes after noon, Florida made its first move of the day by signing former Carolina and Pittsburgh winger Jussi Jokinen to a four-year deal worth $4 million per season.
A solid scorer throughout his nine-year career, Jokinen -- who is no relation to former Florida captain Olli Jokinen -- scored 58 points for the Penguins last year. That was 19 more than Florida's leading scorer in rookie Nick Bjugstad.
Jokinen has played in 660 games with Carolina, Dallas, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh and has 149 goals with 265 assists.
"He has a lot of class, a real pro,'' Tallon said. "He has great skills and can score. He'll also help [Aleksander] Barkov off the ice. He wanted to come here because of Barkov and the other young players in the system. He did his homework. He knew this team inside and out.''
The Panthers then made its biggest financial splash by signing Bolland, the former Chicago and Toronto center to a five-year contract worth $5.5 million per season.
Bolland, whose biggest claim to fame is scoring the goal lifting Chicago to the Cup in 2013, said he narrowed his choices to remaining in Toronto or coming south to be reunited with Tallon.
"I'm coming to a team that's really growing and is going to be a contender,'' said Bollard, who was drafted in 2004 by Tallon while he was the GM of the Blackhawks.
"Dale put together a great team in Chicago. I think it's going to be great with all the young players here.''
With defensemen going fast throughout Tuesday, the Panthers signed Mitchell with their final move of the day.
Mitchell, 37, has spent the past three seasons with the Kings and was instrumental in Los Angeles winning the Cup in two of those seasons.
In 795 NHL games over 12 seasons with Minnesota, Dallas, Vancouver and Los Angeles, Mitchell has 30 goals and 135 assists. He's also played in 89 postseason games during his career.
Florida goalie Roberto Luongo welcomed his former Vancouver teammate to South Florida via Twitter.
Mitchell signed a two-year deal worth $4.25 million per season.
"Great to be your teammate again,'' Luongo wrote.
Aside from Bolland and Jokinen, Tallon added two other forwards in former Boston enforcer Thornton and Columbus grinder MacKenzie.
Thornton, 37, spent the past seven seasons with the Bruins but played under Tallon in Chicago earlier in his career.
"It was pretty disappointing when [Boston] said I wasn't coming back, I'm not going to lie,'' Thornton told Canada's Sportsnet. "I spent a great seven years here. But I've had a few weeks to get over it. The focus then became to find somewhere I would fit and [my family] would be happy. Honestly, Florida was at the top of my list.''
Not happy with backup goalie Dan Ellis -- he went 0-5 and stopped just 84 percent of shots faced after coming over in the Tim Thomas deal with Dallas -- Tallon went out and signed Montoya.
The first Cuban-American to ever play in the NHL, Montoya spent the past four years as a backup with the Islanders and Winnipeg.
A first-round pick by the Rangers in 2004, Montoya toiled for five seasons in the minor leagues before making his NHL debut with Phoenix in 2009.
Tallon signed the former Michigan standout to a two-year deal worth just over $1 million per season. He'll compete with Ellis to be Luongo's backup.
On Tuesday, Tallon gave the early edge to Montoya.
"He's won in the NHL and the American Hockey League,'' Tallon said. "He's from Chicago and always wanted to come to Florida. He's excited. We talked to [Luongo] about it and it takes a special kind of goalie to be a backup. He's had a couple good years in a row.''


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

Great day for Panthers! Nice job by Tallon.

George, can you please ask Tallon why he felt Dave Bolland was worth 5 years and 5.5 million per?

What a joke these signings are. One is almost 40. The others I have barely heard of. Tallon didn't go after any big name players. And to answer the person above me: Tallon had to overpay because no one wants to come here. We suck. Its going to be another year where we barely hang in there. Maybe make the playoffs. We'll be out in the first round again. Please move this team somewhere where ownership will spend money. Tallon can say whatever he wants, but we didn't get anyone notable. What a joke!

Nobody wants to come here and nobody wants to stay here. We overpaid for Bolland, we got yokanin to baby sit Barkov, we signed a 38 yr old dman, we signed a backup goalie, we signed a 4th line center and a 4th line tough guy. Now tell me where guys like shore, howden,Pirri, Trocheck and Hayes goin play?

Decent signings and some badly needed leadership and winning attitude. With all the young guys already in the organization and the roles they'll fill, Thornton and Mitchell won't hurt. It's not like these guys are washed up bums like Kovalev or Gomez brought in to ressurect dead careers. Bolland should be solid now that he's healthy and had the offseason to recover. If anything, I wish Tallon went after Johnson instead of Montoya. No way Vanek, Boyle or Orpik were coming so I won't even include them. I'd like to see us make a move for Torey Krug (RFA, Boston). Bruins have no cap space to counter a serious offer sheet and they blinked when Toronto came calling for Kessel..

“It was a great day for our franchise, and we exceeded expectations,’’ said Tallon. At least after his last two embarrassing seasons the man still has a sense of humor.
Out of the 40 top rated UFA's the Panthers got two, numbers 12 and 21. Once again, watching this team will be as exciting as watching paint dry.

Tallon says it is a great day for this franchise, yes I agree, we are one step closer to Drafting McDavid.

How many former Blackhawk flops are we going to get before someone realizes that we are just spinning our wheels, replacing one washed up player for another.

Dallas and Tampa have done a much better job of changing their culture and talent level.

5 years ago the Panthers hired Tallon and Tampa hired Yzerman, there is no question that 5 years later Yzerman has done a much better job than Tallon.

the blueprint had us competing for the Stanley Cup this year instead we were 29th in offence, 29th in defense, had a terrible power play and terrible penalty kill.

Tampa's AHL team has won a championship, ours has not even made the playoffs.

get ready for a top 3 pick again (all but one of the Tallon years we have drafted in the top three).

Maybe the blueprint was to position ourselves McDavid or Eichel!

Just think we have four more guys who will more than likely be gone next year as they will be UFA's Upshall, Bergenheim, Kopecky, and Fleischmann. Salaries nearly 14 mill. All those guys who Tallon signed before who were mediocre at best....I actually think some of the new guys will be ok, but overall just a "C" rating

Awful...just awful signings.

Why is positioning yourself for McDavid or Eichel imnportant? If we get one of them it will still take years for them to develop into something. Look at Huberdeau. All that hype and he did squat last year.

From sportsnet.ca list of biggest UFA losers:

Dale Tallon
Going into the draft and the July 1 sweepstakes, the Florida Panthers GM needed to come away with immediate help for the top half of his roster, especially up front. The Panthers are a better team today than they were at the season’s dreary end, but only because their most talented prospects are weeks older and the bottom half of the roster has been upgraded. Yeah, David Bolland is paid like a solid second-liner, but on a contender he’d be a third-liner. Willie Mitchell is a useful veteran defenceman, someone who might help out first-overall pick Aaron Ekblad and Erik Gudbranson. Still, Tallon needed to convert his resources and cap room into a first-line scorer and preferably two. It’s hard to see the Panthers as being close to a playoff team and equally as hard to imagine that Tallon will get another kick at it.

I thought that the UFA signings made by the Panthers were all good moves. Most of these players came from winning organizations and they will bring that philosophy to this team.

It takes a long time and tons of patience to build an organization that will compete for the Stanley Cup on a year-to-year basis (re: Chicago Blackhawks who were built by a certain Mr. Tallon).

We live in an instant gratification society where myopic vision is quite common.

Other teams GM’s have ulterior plans that can show quicker results with long term damage to their team (job security?).

We just signed players that if they pan out – so what! We can still trade them at the deadline for draft choices and continue to restock our minor league system.

I have a simple philosophy when it comes to hockey, When people like Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharpe say that they will still go through a cement wall for Dale Tallon (even today) –enough said!

We will have a much better team this year than most people expect. Scouts Honor.

here is another link showing that players similar to Bolland are either out of the league or paid less than 2 million a year, and using Tallon' quotes to this paper in 2010 against what he did yesterday.

my problem is we don't need players that cannot keep up with the speed of the game and Bolland was slow before he injured his Achilles.

saying they won a cup as the reason to bring them in would mean we would bring back Keenan as he won a cup.


That's great news about Kane and Patrick since their willingness to "go through a brick wall" for old Dale means they'll be demanding an immediate trade to Florida. Is waiting 18 years for a team that can get past the first round of the playoffs a search for instant gratification?

The cheap pick of coach who lost each of his only 3 NHL partial seasons- keeps good players from coming here….than you wonder why Niskaneen and Orpik didn't want to play here. Stop telling us kids stories about the coach starting to work the very next day…GARBAGE….. Tallon will be gone in 2 months...

The only reason he dumped Weaver and Goc was to dump Horacheck according to the blueprint ..

I sure wish Tallon would sign Radim Vrbata. He would be ideal to play RW along side Barkov (at center) and Jokinen at LW. Those 3 would be a decent 1st line.

So, where will Pirri, Shore, and Trocheck play? What lines will have Kopecky and Flieshmann? I'm so confused!

Vrbata to van. Pirri, Shore, Howden, Trocheck, Hayes will either be traded or in the ahl

hope the blueprint has a trade for a top line right wing that can put the puck in the net otherwise another long summer last playoff series win 1996 against Pittsburgh, and people wonder why the panthers do not create a buzz.

History appears to be repeating itself, go back and read prior statements from the organization and it is the same thing for over 15 years.

Tim Murray's press conference yesterday says that based on today's NHL a turn around should take 3 years, Tallon now on year 5 and we are still going backwards

When (2011) he picked Special Ed "come crash in my bedroom" as Captain , both Campbell and Weis stopped playing and the whole team was finished - with Jovo out of the way it's back to normal at least. As far as Canadian media goes -coudn't care less what they write -did they love the Panthers in 96?

Who cares if the Canadian media love the Panthers, 18 years ago or now. What they know, for the most part, is the game of hockey. I don't think they have any affection for the Lightning either, but they are smart enough to give credit where credit is due. And that credit goes to the Lightning front office when compared to the travesty that continues year after year in Sunrise.

The comments to this entry are closed.