Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito freed up some much-needed salary cap space on Monday as veteran defenseman Anton Stralman was traded to Arizona.
Stralman, who turns 35 next week, had one more year on the three-year contract he signed as part of Florida’s free agent Class of 2019.
With free agency coming Wednesday at noon, Zito need to move some salary to make some additions — perhaps defenseman Ryan Suter.
After signing Sam Bennett to a four-year contract on Monday, the Panthers were only left with around $5.4 million remaining under the cap and that is without signing newly acquired forward Sam Reinhart who would probably eat right through that.
By trading Stralman to the Coyotes, the Panthers are now closer to $11 million in cap room.
Stralman, who played in 107 games with Florida over the past two seasons, had a modified no-trade clause in his contract and apparently had to be talked into waiving it to play for Arizona.
A potential trade to Arizona had been rumored for the past few weeks and per Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic, Stralman finally agreed to the trade on Monday.
Along with Stralman, the Panthers gave up a promising defensive prospect in Vladislav Kolyachonok, their second-round pick in 2024; Florida will get a seventh round pick in 2023 in return.
This past season, Stralman found himself on the outside looking in when it came to Florida’s defensive plans.
From March 27 through the end of the regular season, Stralman was scratched in 15 of the final 23 games.
The Panthers did bring him back for the playoffs and Stralman was one of Florida’s better defensemen in the five games he played against his former Tampa Bay teammates.
Florida simply could not afford such a big cap hit for a defenseman who likely would have played in half of its games this coming season.