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Are the Florida Panthers Done In Free Agency?



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Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was one of the biggest names signed by the Florida Panthers when free agency opened on July 1. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Florida Panthers were busy when the NHL free agency period opened on July 1 but have not done much since signing Evan Rodrigues to a four-year deal on Day 2.

With training camp slated to start in just over a month, is general manager Bill Zito done?

Looking at what is left on the market, it certainly appears so — for now, anyway.

As things stand, the Panthers addressed their top-6 forwards with the signing of Rodrigues (who replaces the traded Anthony Duclair) as well as their bottom-6 with the acquisitions of Kevin Stenlund and Steven Lorentz.

The Panthers also signed former Buffalo forward Rasmus Asplund to a two-way deal so he could find his way onto the opening night roster as well.

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With Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour expected to miss the start of the season due to post-playoff surgeries, Zito focused in on signing defensemen.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niko Mikkola, Dmitry Kulikov and Mike Reilly are all coming aboard — with Lucas Carlsson re-signing after spending much of his past season with AHL Charlotte.

Throw in goalie Anthony Stolarz and the Panthers look pretty well set at the moment.

Looking at what is left on the market, yeah, the Panthers are probably done.

There just ain’t a lot out there, folks.

Comings & Goings: The Florida Panthers Free Agency Tracker

One fairly prominent player is forward Tomas Tatar and there are reports he may land with the Pittsburgh Penguins before camp opens.

Former Chicago stalwarts Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are both still available and, if this was a few years ago, would have already been snapped up at a hefty price.

But today, there have been reports that Toews could retire and Kane will not be back from offseason surgery until the season has already started.

Could the Panthers have interest in Kane when he is healthy?

Perhaps. Kane spent his career with the Blackhawks and won the Stanley Cup there three times before being traded to the Rangers at the deadline.

Now a free agent, the thought is Kane will be ready to go sometime around the New Year and will pick the team he wants to play for.

If the Panthers look like a fit, they may be able to figure something out when it comes to the salary cap.

The Kane decision is a ways away and much can happen between today and when he is able to return.

As for additions to the Panthers, expect a professional tryout or two for veteran players who have not found a contract prior to camp.

Last year, the Panthers brought Eric Staal to camp on a PTO but that was only because of the team’s salary cap situation.

There was little doubt when camp opened that Staal would have been signed on a one-year deal — like the one he eventually got — had the Panthers not been up against the cap.

While Florida remains at the cap ceiling now, there is the possibility either Ekblad or Montour starts the season on long-term injured reserve allowing the Panthers a little flexibility.

Someone like veteran forward Paul Stastny, who played for Paul Maurice in Winnipeg, could be a possibility to get a shot with the Panthers if he does not sign somewhere else first.

Staal is also out there but it would be surprising if he would take a PTO from the Panthers unless there was a job waiting for him at the end of camp.

With Stenlund signed, right now, there is not.

Yes, while the Panthers certainly will be making a few more moves before training camp opens in September, there are no more big splashes left to be made — at least not in free agency.


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