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FHN Florida Panthers Mailbag: Trade Talk, Bob & Ballys

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With the NHL Trade Deadline just a few weeks away, the Florida Panthers would be considered buyers — if they had the salary cap room, or the draft stock, to do anything big.

We opened up the FHN Mailbag to you, our loyal readers, and trade talk dominated the questions.

Of course there was a lot more to get to, including questions about Sergei Bobrovsky, Spencer Knight, Sam Reinhart, Mackie Samoskevich and what will happen with the Florida Panthers on television moving forward.

A lot of great questions.

We will open up the Mailbag again at the end of the month as the Trade Deadline gets closer.

For now, however, it’s time to open things up:

Has the team given any indication of what they consider trade deadline needs? Related, are there any prospects they consider off-limits? — @TheycallmeBoozy

The trade deadline is now less than a month away, and we have already seen some big moves.

The Panthers will probably do something at the deadline — they currently have about $1.5 million in space, so there is not much room to do much but perhaps bolster their forward depth.

Florida feels good about its blueline depth, as it should; but another bottom-6 forward with some upside and possibly some term is always welcomed around these parts.

After the All-Star break, do you see the Cats bringing Samoskevich back up? I didn’t think he looked out of place in NHL games and would give the team another option at forward that might produce more offense than some of the current choices. — Dale Huber

He certainly did not look out of place. His speed, aggressiveness, and poise with the puck impressed me. He did a lot of good things.

But I do not see him coming back right away. The Florida Panthers will be practicing today in Fort Lauderdale so, perhaps he is there; I think not, however.

With Nick Cousins and Will Lockwood expected to be back from their concussions, there is not any room. We’ll see.

With the Panthers’ limited draft stock and shortage of top prospects, what moves do you foresee the Cats making, if any at all, at the deadline? Last year we had Duke coming off of IR to act as our “trade deadline pickup,” so there wasn’t quite the need to make a move, but obviously, this year, that isn’t the case. Zito is good, but he’s not a magician. — SurveyJay

You said it; Bill Zito will have to come up with some interesting proposals. Not only do the Panthers have little draft stock to move, but even if they did, they would have to create some cap space to fit the newcomer in.

The Florida Panthers are likely not going the rental route after going all-in during the 2021-22 season because they are now starting to catch up to their first-round picks again.

What players do you see as being “expendable”? As much love as players have for Cousins, I think he is. Also, I believe Lundell is someone talked about a lot for potential but I just don’t see production on the ice. Kuli is also someone I would let go. And I also agree with another commentator on Spencer. This has nothing against mental health or him as a person but he isn’t helping us at all. And if we could trade him for someone who could, why not? — Kevin Hawkey

You will not see the Florida Panthers move a defenseman unless they are getting one back whom they think is an upgrade.

Dmitry Kulikov has been just fine this year, and Paul Maurice trusts his game based on when and how much he is on the ice. Lundell is still a big part of this team, and I would not see him go anywhere anytime soon. Cousins has been taking a lot of flak from the outside lately, but he is beloved in that room. Chemistry means a lot to Zito and to the Panthers.

Thoughts on Zito using available cap space to bring in a veteran player to provide depth, experience, and leadership, especially with Staal no longer on the roster? One name that comes to mind is Phil Kessel, who would likely be willing to sign with a contender for the minimum. — @MarkWeber1

The Panthers are pretty happy where they are from the experience standpoint, especially after all they went through in the last playoff.

These guys know what they must do; no one has to tell them. If they go after a veteran player, they feel he is an upgrade to the roster, not just for their off-ice credentials.

With Reinhart getting all the attention, is there any progression with extending Montour and Forsling? I feel for Montour because his scoring is down but has many grade A chances, a solid D-man. — Dale Lewis

The Panthers are working with all three. I had heard a few months ago that they were close to a deal with Montour, but I am still waiting for something to happen. That could be by design. There are a lot of puzzle pieces to fit in, especially with Forsling and Reinhart’s price going up as this season has rolled along.

With Reinhart, Forsling, and Montour being free agents, do you think one or more gets traded if the cost will be too high to retain? — Andrew Levine

Nope. The Panthers are not chasing draft capital but trying to win it all. And all three of those players give you something you need. They’re not going anywhere — even if the Panthers thought all three would walk. Which, we can assume, is not the case.

Can you publish the key stats for the Cats by the season on a running basis? Goals, assists, total points, wins, losses, and gpg for the goalies? — Michael Harris

We could. I don’t know how to set that up, but maybe I’ll put Colby on it, and we could run on Mondays.

With Bob playing so well into the later parts of his contract and less separation between goalies, is Spencer Knight potentially on the trade block or still untouchable? Second trade-related question – which ex-Panther would you want to see rejoin the team? One realistic scenario and one that can be totally pie in the sky (i.e. a Huberdeau or Gudas style return) with the one caveat on the pie in the sky that they have to still be an active NHL player. — Bryan Geary

As for Sergei Bobrovsky, if he keeps playing like this, I could see him sticking around for the sixth and seventh seasons of his contract. Remember, when they signed him, most of the money was front-loaded, so it would be easier to unload after the fifth season. That was also under different management. We’ll see.

Spencer Knight is not untouchable, not with the money he is making, but the Panthers are said to be very happy with how things have gone this season. There is no rush to do anything right now, but I can only see them paying $15-plus million for goalies next season if Knight is here playing with Bobrovsky. And the way Anthony Stolarz has played, could he get a new deal here?

As for a former Panthers player who I could see the team (realistically) going after, the leading name would be Nick Bjugstad. He does have another season at $2.1 million with the Coyotes — so if they were going to trade for him, it probably would have been at the deadline last year.

Whip out the crystal ball: can you see Zito holding on to Forsling AND Verhaeghe? — ScubaDocJMP

Boy, this is a tough one. Luckily for the Panthers, Verhaeghe has another season on a very team-friendly deal. They will worry about him getting his — and Verhaeghe is going to be paid — after this season or even next year.

The biggest question right now is, how do the Panthers keep Sam Reinhart, Forsling and Brandon Montour this year? I think it can be done and if Florida can shed some other salary, perhaps No. 23 will get his payday as well.

Amazon bought a stake in Ballys, and will carry the local market Ballys games on Prime for an extra fee this year across all sports it carries. Is this correct and or do you have any insight if it will continue beyond this year? Will there be an all in one place where I can watch the Cats and get the NHL package without having to keep my archaic Direct TV boxes and subscription? — Cats and Oilers

This deal has many moving parts, and no one has a handle on what will come next.
BUT, it sounds like Panthers coverage will remain on Bally Sports via cable, satellite and streaming services through the first round of the playoffs.

Next season? I do not know. The Panthers could end up re-signing with Bally, meaning those living in the South Florida region could stream games on Prime and watch on regular television as is the case now. From what I can tell, the Prime deal spells the end of the Bally app — and that is good news.

As for out-of-market, ESPN+ has a long-term deal with the NHL to carry those, so if you live in Atlanta, you will continue to watch games there.

When will FHN and the crew start to have a bigger presence on Threads as opposed to Twitter? — Calvey

Well, I am on threads (at) georgerichards_305 and have posted some stories there. I do not use Threads, so I forget to post stuff there on a frequent basis.

It is too much like Instagram — I know — in that news does not come in chronological order like Twitter does.

Yes, I hate using Twitter, which is sometimes a cesspool. But it still delivers news promptly, as long as the person offering it is who they say they are, which can be a problem.

What is Threads? — SurveyJay

Threads is a new app, built by the Instagram team, for sharing text updates and joining public conversations.

You log in using your Instagram account and posts can be up to 500 characters long and include links, photos, and videos up to 5 minutes in length.

We’re working to soon make Threads compatible with the open, interoperable social networks that we believe can shape the future of the internet.

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ON DECK

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Florida: Feb. 6; March 7. At Philadelphia: March 24.  
  • Last season: Philadelphia won 2-1
  • All-time regular season series: Philadelphia leads 57-37-6, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday vs. Washington, 7 p.m.

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