The NHL free agency window opens today at noon and the Florida Panthers are not expected to make much of a splash.
That’s because they have already done much of the work that needed to be done.
The priority coming into this offseason was keeping what the team had (as much as it could) and make additions as prudently as possible.
When breaking down the Florida roster, there simply isn’t much room — and not enough cap space — to be major players in free agency.
That does not mean Florida will be completely silent.
The Panthers will likely sign a couple of players, perhaps ones bought out by other teams or not offered qualifying offers as was the case last October.
One move the Panthers completed before free agency started was bringing forward Maxim Mamin back from the KHL.
Last year, Mamin scored 15 goals with 35 points in 55 games for CSKA Moscow. He will be replaced on their roster by former Panthers center Lucas Wallmark who left last month.
But aside from that, and signing Carter Verhaeghe to a contract extension today, that could be about do it.
General manager Bill Zito said last weekend following the entry draft that, after trading for Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart, he wanted to keep as much of the 2021 Panthers intact as he could.
As much as Florida would have liked to keep Alex Wennberg, for instance, the money just didn’t work out.
After having a career year in his one season with the Panthers, Wennberg drew interest from a number of teams today as he was priced out of the Panthers ballpark.
Per Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic, Wennberg will be reunited with Chris Driedger in Seattle.
Before free agency kicks into gear, lets look at how the Panthers’ opening night roster could look based on what they have right this moment.
THE PRE-FREE AGENCY FLORIDA PANTHERS
FORWARDS (14): Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Carter Verhaeghe (resigning today), Anthony Duclair (re-signed in July), Patric Hornqvist, Sam Bennett (re-signed Monday), Frank Vatrano, Sam Reinhart (acquired Saturday), Noel Acciari, Owen Tippett, Eetu Luostarinen, Mason Marchment, Juho Lammikko/Ryan Lomberg/Maxim Mamin.
GOALIES (2): Sergei Bobrovsky, Spencer Knight.