Connect with us

Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers Bolster Depth for Low Cost at Trade Deadline



Panthers trade
Kyle Okposo plays in his final game with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night n Nashville. He was traded to the Florida Panthers on Friday. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

FORT LAUDERDALE — Heading into the NHL Trade Deadline with the best record in the league, there was not a whole lot the Florida Panthers needed to do to add to their already deep roster.

But they did just that by acquiring forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Kyle Okposo before Friday’s deadline came to pass.

For a team which already had three dynamic offensive lines, the Panthers added two more double-digit scorers to the fray who could play just about anywhere in the lineup.

It was exactly what general manager Bill Zito sought out to achieve to bolster his roster ahead of a push for the Stanley Cup.

“What we wanted to do was supplement and add to our top six and our top nine,” Zito said. “And I think [Tarasenko] does that and it’s a pretty easy one, right? He has a lot of flexibility and utility with who he can play with and how. He has some versatility to his game. He can score, he has hockey sense he will go and dig pucks, he’s just a high-end, all-around hockey player, and he’s very smart. He can plug in with [anybody.] We have smart lines, so that works really well for us.

“With Kyle, we added depth and we added flexibility in our depth as well. So that he can be able to move around the lineup and bump in and out. We also added leadership, guidance and experience. And similarly, it’s great.”

They got it done without giving up an exorbitant amount of assets.

Get FHN+ today!

Tarasenko, the biggest name the Panthers acquired from the Ottawa Senators ahead of Friday’s trade deadline, cost Florida a third-round pick and a conditional fourth-rounder that would be upgraded to a third if the Panthers win the Stanley Cup.

Okposo, a veteran forward who had been serving as captain of the Buffalo Sabres for the past two years, was acquired for a conditional seventh-round pick and 24-year-old prospect Calle Sjallin, whom the Panthers picked up in free agency in 2022.

“As we look at it from an asset inventory perspective, we didn’t give up a first and we can move forward,” Zito said. “And we get to keep those prospects that we have and we believe in.”

Both players add their own wrinkle to Florida’s culture as well.

On top of his tenure as Sabres captain, Okposo was an assistant captain for the New York Islanders for years and has been described as a player who can be the “heart and soul” of a team.

Tarasenko won a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019 and was a leader and a star player of that team.

“It’s so valuable because now you’re just brining more leadership,” Zito said. “And not necessarily in the form of individual leadership. That person brings guidance and support and understanding of the other leaders. Maybe I did some things that are going to help you and that’s invaluable.”

The Panthers also added 22-year-old defenseman Tobias Bjornfot to the fold via a waiver claim.

Bjornfot has 119 games of NHL games spread across five seasons spent with the Los Angeles Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights.

His lone full NHL season came in 2021-22, when he played 70 games and racked up eight assists.

He was waived by Vegas after playing two games for them this year following an injury he sustained in January.

“He is 22 years old, he is a recent first round pick and he has already played almost a full season in the league,” Zito said. “He played so many games in L.A. a couple of years ago and we looked at it as a prospect with some pretty significant upside and somebody to come in and work with them and make him a part of things and we’ll see where it goes.”



  • When: Saturday, 4 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
  • This Season (Flames Lead 1-0) — At Calgary: Flames 3, Panthers 1 (Dec. 18). At Florida: Saturday.
  • Last Season: Calgary Won 2-0
  • All-Time Regular Season Series: Calgary leads 25-11-3, 3 ties

Get FHN in your inbox!

Be the first to know. Enter your email to get the latest from Florida Hockey Now delivered straight to your inbox.