Cory Stillman won Stanley Cups in Carolina and Tampa Bay. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
I don’t like the three-year, $9.6 million deal that Cory Stillman signed Tuesday with Florida – and not because I think the Panthers aren’t getting a talented, reliable goal-scorer. They certainly are, and Stillman almost certainly will give them at least 20 goals and 50 points each season he’s in Sunrise.
Here’s why I don’t like it: in almost doubling the salary of a guy who’ll turn 35 in December, did Florida GM Jacques Martin make his team significantly better? Did he turn heads the way the Lightning did by acquiring Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts and Olaf Kolzig? Did he bowl over his fans with a big-time gamble, the way the Capitals did by signing Jose Theodore? Did he risk breaking a cardinal sin in the GM community and reach out with an offer to a restricted free agent, the way Vancouver’s Mike Gillis did with David Backes?
The answers: Nah, nope and, in the words of Whitney Houston, hells to the no.
They signed Stillman, a nice, upper-middle-tier type of player who more than likely can see his best on-ice years only with the aid of a rearview mirror. But hey, it helps keep the Panthers just above the salary cap floor for next season, and in a wobbly hockey market like South Florida, that’s one of the best things they can hope for these days.
If Stillman were being brought into the organization as part of a bigger package of players, I’d be okay with the deal.
But if this and the Olli Jokinen trade represent the biggest moves the Panthers will make this off-season, mark me down as ‘underwhelmed.’