Reaction to an Ottawa Sun report claiming the Florida Panthers could start dumping some veteran players.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Harvey Fialkov referenced an article in Sunday’s Ottawa Sun claiming the Florida Panthers could soon start shopping veterans like “ forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, Brad Boyes and Marcel Goc, as well as defenseman Tom Gilbert and Dmitry Kulikov.”
Fialkov notes Fleischmann, Gilbert, Boyes and Goc at times are playing well, while Upshall’s contract (two years, $7 million) is “basically unmoveable”. He points out Kulikov hasn’t made progress , is in the final year of his contract and seems the most marketable. The Panthers were off Sunday and unavailable for comment, but Fialkov suspects GM Dale Tallon will rely on his standard response to trade rumors: ”I will do anything to improve this team.”
MIAMI HERALD: George Richards also commented on the Sun reports, believing the Panthers won’t start shopping veterans until the March trade deadline, if at all. He believes Tim Thomas could be attractive to playoff contenders if the Panthers are out of the playoff race by that point.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson believes the Oilers would be interested in Panthers center Shawn Matthias if he were to be shopped. He also wondered if the NY Islanders are on the no-trade list of Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Though the Panthers have a new owner probably keen to put his stamp on this club, it’s far too early to believe they’ll stage a massive shakeup. Even if Tallon were ordered to start dumping salary, thanks to the lowered salary cap for this season, there simply isn’t much of a market for many of those veteran players right now. As Fialkov noted, if the Panthers can start stringing together a few wins, there won’t be a pressing need to start dumping salary.
The contracts of several of those Panthers veterans make them difficult to move. Fleischmann and Upshall have no-movement/modified NTC clauses. Versteeg’s cap hit is $4.4 million per season to 2015-16. If, as Richards observed, the Panthers are out of playoff contention as the trade deadline nears, then we can expect them to start shopping some veterans, but the easiest to move will be players under affordable contracts expiring after this season, like Kulikov, Goc, Gilbert and Boyes.