Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Which Florida Panthers will be traded?

Lyle Richardson
By:

Author: The Hockey News

Rumors

Rumor Roundup: Which Florida Panthers will be traded?

Lyle Richardson
By:

The Florida Panthers face a daunting challenge to climb back into playoff contention following the NHL Olympic break. After 58 games they currently sit 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, prompting speculation the team will ship out some veterans by the March 5 trade deadline.

The Florida Panthers face a daunting challenge to climb back into playoff contention following the NHL Olympic break. After 58 games they currently sit 13 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, prompting speculation the team will ship out some veterans by the March 5 trade deadline.

Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel reports GM Dale Tallon isn't giving up on the season, but expressed disappointment over the performance of several underachieving veterans. The Panthers GM said his struggling team lacks self-motivated, self-disciplined leadership and that was something that had to be addressed and changed.

Tallon didn't single out anyone by name, but Fialkov believes he's referring to veteran forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky and Shawn Matthias. He notes the trio are signed through next season, making them difficult to move.

Goaltender Tim Thomas, defenseman Tom Gilbert and winger Brad Boyes would certainly attract interest leading up to the deadline. They're under one-year contracts and eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, but the Panthers hope to retain them. Tallon claims he's opened preliminary contract talks with the trio, adding Thomas is interested in staying.

It's no surprise Tallon wants to re-sign them. Thomas (15-18-3, 2.80 goals-against average, .910 save percentage) is their best goaltender, Boyes (15 goals, 26 points) their leading goal scorer and Gilbert (three goals, 25 points) their best puck-moving defenseman. Their respective futures with the Panthers could be determined by the progress of their contract negotiations by the trade deadline.

The Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa also noted the Panthers have several forwards (Fleischmann, Kopecky, Matthias, Sean Bergenheim and Scottie Upshall) who could be complimentary on playoff contenders but whose contracts make them difficult to move. All are signed through next season, with Fleischmann and Upshall carrying modified no-trade clauses. Of the five, Matthias ($1.8 million per season) is the most affordable, as the others earn between $2.8 and $4.5 million.

If the Panthers hope to move any of those players by the deadline, Shinzawa believes they'll have to pick up part of their salaries as they did earlier this season when they dealt Kris Versteeg to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Under the current CBA rules, a team can only retain salary/cap hit on three contracts in one season. Having retained Versteeg's salary over the remaining term of his contract (through 2015-16), the Panthers can retain salary on two more players. If those players have a year or more remaining on their contracts, the Panthers won't be able to retain salary on any trades next season.

Rumor Roundup appears weekdays 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: Which Florida Panthers will be traded?