Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Panthers could target Blackhawks in off-season

Lyle Richardson
By:

Patrick Sharp (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Panthers could target Blackhawks in off-season

Lyle Richardson
By:

Former Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon, now the GM of the Florida Panthers, will be in the market to upgrade his offense next season, and he could look at his former club. With Chicago up against the salary cap and with a number of high-priced offensive stars, Tallon could land Patrick Sharp or Bryan Bickell for cheap. In Ottawa, missing the playoffs could spell the end of Chris Neil in Canada’s capital.

A lower than expected salary cap for 2015-16 and nearly $65 million in cap payroll invested in just 14 players ensures the Chicago Blackhawks will be shedding salary in the off-season. Teams with available cap space seeking skilled talent will be calling Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman once the playoffs are over.

Among the suitors could be the Florida Panthers. The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa speculates Panthers GM Dale Tallon could once again acquire players from his former club. The Panthers roster currently contains former Hawks (like Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen) who were acquired via trade or free agency.

The Panthers currently have over $48 million in cap payroll invested in 18 players for 2015-16. Restricted free agents Jonathan Huberdeau and Jimmy Hayes must be re-signed. Sportsnet's Luke Fox cites reports out of the Czech Republic claiming pending UFA Jaromir Jagr is receptive to returning with the Panthers in 2015-16. Even with Huberdeau, Hayes and Jagr under wraps (the latter to a one-year, bonus-laden deal), Tallon should still have sufficient room to add a skilled veteran or two via the trade market.

Shinzawa guesses Blackhawks wingers Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell could be the next players to ride the Chicago shuttle to Florida. Sharp has two years at an annual cap hit of $5.9 million left on his contract, while Bickell also has two years remaining at a more affordable cap hit of $4 million. Bowman won't want salary in return and Tallon has depth in blueline prospects to offer up in exchange for either guy.

NEIL’S TENURE IN OTTAWA OVER?

If the Ottawa Senators fail to make the 2015 playoffs, it's possible veteran winger Chris Neil may have played his final game with the Sens.

The Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan reports the 35-year-old Neil is still trying to work his way back into the lineup from a broken thumb. The popular long-time Senators winger has a year remaining on his contract and has a fan in GM Bryan Murray, but Brennan notes there were teams interested in Neil leading up to this year's trade deadline.

While Murray left the decision up to Neil, who has a modified no-trade clause, Brennan speculates interest in the pugnacious winger could be revisited this summer. He suggests there's no guarantee the Sens will reject any offers.

Neil is coming to the end of both his NHL career and his opportunities to win a Stanley Cup. The Senators have shown promise this season and are on the verge of playoff contention, but they still lack the depth in talent required for a Cup run. If a Cup contender were to express interest this summer in Neil, he could consider moving on.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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Rumor Roundup: Panthers could target Blackhawks in off-season