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FHN Florida Panthers Mailbag: Patrick Kane, Denisenko & More

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The Florida Panthers gather at center ice of the IceDen in Coral Springs on Tuesday morning. They open the 2023-24 NHL season tonight against the host Minnesota Wild. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

A new Florida Panthers season is upon us as they return to the ice tonight in St. Paul when they take on the host Minnesota Wild.

What better way to kick things off than with a new FHN Mailbag?

As always, you questions were on point.

Lots of great topics today from the Grigori Denisenko situation to the possibility Patrick Kane comes south to when will the Panthers finally get a third jersey.

OK, that last one comes up in every Mailbag.

But now, there’s a twist!

What are the odds of getting Patrick Kane? How do you fit him under the camp is he’s ready to be available around the same time as Montour and Ekblad? — Luis

I think any talk of where Kane will end up is a ways away.

Although there is word he is progressing well from offseason surgery, he still has to get into playing shape and all. I don’t think there is any hurry.

But word that he would be interested in coming to the Panthers makes sense since, well, a lot of players want to come to the Panthers. This has become a place players want to be.  We shall see.

It is going to be tough to add anyone to the roster once Aaron Ekblad is off LTIR and when Spencer Knight eventually makes his way back since $1 million of his $4.5 million contract is stashed in the minors.

But, something always happens over the course of a season and if Kane wants to come here, both sides will figure that out.

What is the George Richards all-time 30th anniversary team—of all the players that spent time here, what are your best four lines, three defensive pairings and two goalies. Feel free to throw in a couple of backups in case of injuries. — Jon Baldwin

Going to do something on this once the season gets going but rest assured Sasha Barkov will be on the 30th anniversary team. Stay tuned.

Tell me about Denisenko. Panthers put him on waivers for reassignment. Vegas takes him off waivers. Vegas puts him on waivers. Seems like Panthers would take him back. If not, why not? What is the strategy here? — Harry Lampley

Like you said, if the Panthers wanted him back all they had to do was put in a claim and he would have been returned and allowed to go to Charlotte.

They allowed him to stay with the Knights and play for their AHL team.

Florida gave Denisenko a two-year, one-way deal. Allowing another team to just take him tells me they did not see much of a future for him here and let him walk.

Where do you have the Panthers finishing the regular season? Who is going to be the breakout player? — Calvey

I think they make their way into the top three of the Atlantic Division by the time things are all said and done.

As for a breakout player, anyone I mention not named Mackie Samoskevich, Justin Sourdif or Uvis Balinskis will ring hollow considering everyone here follows this team so closely.

I do expect big things from Anton Lundell and Eetu Luostarinen — but so do all of you. Oliver Ekman-Larsson has a lot to prove.

How about Nick Cousins remaining on the second line? If that works out the way the Panthers hope people around the league would be like ‘whaaaat?’

How are players paid during the preseason? Are the paid per their contract? How are unsigned PTO’s paid, since they are just there hoping to get a contract? — Luis

This is actually a pretty common question.

First, players do not start getting paid until the season starts. Players with signing bonuses built into their contracts do get that money before the season.

Players also get paid through the end of the regular season which means players in the postseason are not getting paid — although there is a playoff pool in which they do get bonus money from, but no paycheck in the traditional sense.

As for those on a PTO, there is no money exchanged until a contract is signed. They are there trying to win a job.

After reading your story on Barkov with Rodrigues, it got me thinking of all the different players we have put on Barkov’s line. Can you think of any other 1Cs on a playoff team in recent years that has been in that situation? I think we under appreciate the way he brings out the best in other players. — Dale Huber

Yeah, Barkov has had a few new dance partners over the years but it was not that long ago that the Panthers decided things were in good enough shape around here that they could take Jonathan Huberdeau off his line and spread the wealth a little bit.

Like you say, Barkov is so good he makes everyone else around him better. They never have given Sam Reinhart more than a game or four on that right side though. I guess they figure they can always give it another try.

With the recent success of the team, lower bowl season tickets have sold out and there has been greater team coverage. Your site and you tube channel are obviously riding the same wave. Can you give us some insight as to how they have grown and what you foresee in the future? Did I notice some articles from authors other than you and Colby? — Cats And Leafs

Yes, you did notice articles from Alan Greenberg, a longtime contributor who has worked with Stan Fischler over the years. Alan is based down here in South Florida and is a press box staple in Sunrise. A real hockey man. He has agreed to share his wealth of hockey knowledge with us and we are grateful for it.

Like the Panthers’ ticket sales and television ratings, things are trending upward here at FHN as well. We had our biggest non-Kodak Black months ever last season and easily eclipsed our numbers from 2022 by summer.

We continue to try and bring you all the best Florida Panthers coverage anywhere and feel we are doing so.

We have a good team — don’t forget Roger Topalian who you should give a shout to at (561) 866-2000 if you ever need a professional photographer — who all just want to cover this team the way it needs to be covered.

But we would not be able to do it without all the support we get from you readers. It is appreciated.

With roughly 18 in 30 years, the historical lifespan of Florida Panther head coaches is conspicuously brief. Other than Doug MacLean And Paul Maurice arguably having the most playoff success (along with a truncated Q), hasty turnover has denied many of any traction. This begs the question : who is charged with giving SERIOUS Thought and consideration to the momentous and consequential consideration of a Head Coaching change. Who is having table discussions with the General Manager? Does Vinny Viola command a spot at the table? Please name as many as you know that are involved, and their likely influence. — Zeke 1961

There is no doubt the Panthers have had a lot of coaches over the years. They thought they ended the carousel when they hired Joel Quenneville to a long-term deal. They have had two more coaches since.

Now that Bill Zito is the general manager, a lot of the decision making comes from him but the Viola family and Matt Caldwell have a lot of input as well. They hope they do not have to go through all of that again for a while.

Hey George thanks for all your coverage. Has there been any recent updates on the contract negotiations regarding Gustav Forsling, Brandon Montour, and Sam Reinhart? — Harrison Racicot

I am sure there is some conversations between Bill and the agents but nothing that would come public — until one side wanted it out there. Things will work themselves out in time.

Two questions when fanatics takes over will we get a rebrand and 3rd jersey. Ex using 1993 kit with current logos. — @Dragons_Quest

Why haven’t the Panthers gone with a full time 3rd jersey? Feels like a missed opportunity, especially this season. — @ATwiss99

I think the popularity of the last Reverse Retro finally got the Panthers on board with a third jersey although the new Fanatics takeover is going to slow anything coming down the pike. No one is excited about them coming in as they don’t exactly have the best reputation. But the Panthers are now thinking more in line that if they did go that direction that, if done well, it will sell. But don’t bet on it coming anytime soon.

Assuming that the Panthers get Ekblad and Montour back in the next 60 days or so, would you envision that Zito might try to deal some depth toward trying to rebuild the team’s draft capital going forward? — @MarkWeber1

Only if this team is in last place and 20 points out of a playoff spot. Any moves they would make would be for the betterment of the on-ice product, not getting draft picks for down the road.

This team is in win-now mode which is why their draft stock is where it is in the first place.

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MINNESOTA WILD

  • When: Thursday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 2-0
  • This season: Florida @ Minnesota, Thursday; Minnesota @ Florida, Jan. 19
  • All-time regular season series: Minnesota leads 18-10-2, 1 tie
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday at Winnipeg Jets, 4 p.m. (BSF, 790-AM)

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