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Florida Panthers Free Agency, Trade Rumors at NHL Draft

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The stage is set at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for the start of the 2023 NHL Draft. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

NASHVILLE — Good evening from the start of the NHL Draft here at the Bridgestone Arena where I have been since early this afternoon. Follow along for news, trade and free agency rumors surrounding the Florida Panthers throughout the night.

We’ll call this a running blog so, you know, check it out throughout the evening.

The Panthers obviously do not have a first-round pick in this draft — nor in the next two — but that does not mean they are not having their name bandied about in a number of different deals.

Here is what I am hearing in Nashville as well as what other national writers are reporting:

MID-DRAFT UPDATE: Does not sound like the Panthers will be doing anything tonight although they certainly still could.

Back to the free agency stuff, not sure if Eric Staal is returning to the Panthers but there is a possibility Marc Staal does.

PRE-DRAFT UPDATE

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— The Panthers are not expected to be major players when free agency opens Saturday at noon despite having $10 million under the cap.

Those thoughts that the Panthers would sign Tyler Bertuzzi?

While he would be a great fit in South Florida, someone is going to overpay to get him and it is not going to be the Panthers.

We do not expect the Panthers to be in on Bertuzzi unless he really wants to turn down bigger money elsewhere for the sunny shores of Fort Lauderdale.

— Speaking of free agents, it continues to sound like Radko Gudas will be testing free agency come Saturday.

The Panthers would love to keep Gudas for obvious reasons but there are reports out there that he may get four years and north of $12 million from someone (Detroit?) wanting his specific set of skills.

This is not a surprise; if the Panthers and Gudas were going to have an extension worked out, it would have been announced by now. Perhaps those rumored deals for Gudas are just that and he circles back to Florida, but it does not sound like it.

— Cannot confirm anything when it comes to Anthony Duclair other than the Panthers are interested in Calgary defenseman Noah Hanifin although as Pierre LeBrun of TSN reports, the Flames may be able to do better.

Bill Zito made sure the Flames could not say no to his offer for Matthew Tkachuk last July; will he go all-in here? Obviously Duclair — going into the final year of his contract at $3 million per — may not be with the Panthers next season.

— The Draft kicks off from here in Nashville around 7 p.m. back home with Connor Bedard going No. 1 to the Blackhawks. It’s on ESPN if you want to watch and Doug Plagens is doing a live show on WQAM 560-AM.

— We’ll know if Zito is the GM of the Year midway through the draft.

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