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NHL Trade Deadline: Florida Panthers will look at top defensemen

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Panthers nhl trade deadline
Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito, speaking at Sasha Barkov’s contract extension press conference in October, is expected to be a player at the NHL Trade Deadline in March. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito has shown he is not afraid to make a big deal whether it is in the offseason or at the NHL Trade Deadline.

In the past 16 months he has been on the job in Sunrise, Zito has transformed the Florida roster — and a lot of the changes have come through trades.

With the Panthers coming into Sunday tied for the NHL lead in points with the Tampa Bay Lightning, it is all but assured Zito will be a buyer when the trade deadline comes in March.

The Panthers are in go-for-it mode and will be players at the NHL Trade Deadline.

But what will they be looking for?

Florida appears set at forward (although it could make a few moves) and in net.

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The main focus will be upgrading the defense — something Zito has been working on since he got to town.

Since Zito took over, Florida’s blueline has been completely revamped.

Of Florida’s regular defensemen, only A-listers Aaron Ekblad and MacKenzie Weegar remain from the 2019-20 season.

Expect Zito to make a run at some of the big names on the market over the next few weeks.

What Zito has to deal with will be interesting and could handcuff him when it comes to the needs to certain teams.

Zito has traded Florida’s 2022 first-round pick to Buffalo for Sam Reinhart as well as the 2022 second round selection to Calgary for Sam Bennett.

Florida does have its first and second round picks from 2023 on, however.

Here is who the Panthers will be looking into acquiring — and what it could cost:

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