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NHL Trade Deadline: Special Edition Florida Panthers Mailbag!

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Panthers Florida NHL Trade

With the NHL Trade Deadline coming Monday at 3, I thought today would be a great time to open up the Mailbag to you, the fan of the Florida Panthers and reader of Florida Hockey Now.

I thought this Mailbag would be hefty but goodness.

As our favorite television postman Newman once explained: “The mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There’s never a letup, it’s relentless. Every day it piles up more and more, and you gotta get it out, but the more you get out, the more keeps coming in! And then the bar code reader breaks! And then it’s Publisher’s Clearinghouse Day!”

Well, the NHL Trade Deadline is our Publisher’s Clearinghouse Day for the Mailbag.

The second biggest day would probably be the start of free agency. But there’s something special about the NHL Trade Deadline.

Some teams are going to get better; many are going to get worse.

And the teams in contention who are ready to spend are going to spend.

This year may be different. With the limited amount of regular season games remaining, the flat salary cap, the perceived devaluation of the 2021 draft pick could mean a quiet Monday on your favorite Canadian sports network.

But I don’t think it will be quiet around these parts between now and then.

Will the Panthers make a move before Monday at 3? Yes.

Will it be a big one? I would have to say yes.

As always, we’ll see what happens.

Now, on to your questions!

George do you think Florida will trade for Eichel or Hall? Will Joe Pavelski get traded to play in the playoffs and lastly Foligno and Savard is that going to happen more so than Hall trade? — @Dragons_Quest

Dragon I do think the Panthers are all over Taylor Hall and I am sure they have asked about Jack Eichel as well. That move would be a little more difficult to do right now but may be something the two teams circle back to in the offseason.

To get a guy like Eichel away from Buffalo will be costly. And it should be costly. Adding him is like adding another Sasha Barkov.

It’s going to cost more than a draft pick or two. It’s going to cost something big (Jonathan Huberdeau-esque) and if you’re Florida, are you giving up big pieces like that heading into the playoffs? Probably not.

In the offseason, maybe.

As for David Savard and Nick Foligno, well, I would not be surprised if one or both end up here.

It appears both are gone (Savard is sitting, Foligno has apparently let it leak he would be OK with leaving) and both would add a dimension Florida could use.

Savard, being a top-4 defenseman obviously fills a need but Bill Zito knows Foligno does as well.

Any chance of a Mike Hoffman reunion? — @lucarella_r

Boy, did things sour for Hoffman, eh? If not for the Covid stuff, he probably would have locked down a four-year deal at a nice number but instead went with the one-year contract with St. Louis.

It looked like a good move, one with the future in mind, at the time. It hasn’t worked out for either side and now he’s on the market. He would definitely help the power play as Aaron Ekblad seemed to take his spot on the right side.

But, if you thought Owen Tippett could have replaced him last year, why not give him a shot at it this year?

Anyway, I don’t see it happening. I would not mind it, but I do not see it.

Can the Florida Panthers afford Mike Hoffman even for one season?

Hey George! Who else do you think Zito is willing to use for draft capital? Any possibility of a guy w/term considering the expansion draft is looming? — @RTBeese

Hey RT! I think depending on the player, all the draft picks are in play. You may not have to give up a first to Buffalo for Hall (you might, however) but that draft pick may have to be used somewhere.

I hate handing out first round picks and the Panthers have been very good about not doing so over the years. But if you have to use it, well, use it.

With the move to get more cap space, other than Hall, who else do you think is being targeted? — @AndrewLevine5

You name the player on the market and I think the Panthers are interested in him. Florida was able to clear up some money by trading Brett Connolly and some of that will be used now. But it also cleared up $3.5 million over the next two seasons that would have been spent on a player the Panthers were obviously done with.

NHL Trade Deadline: Florida Panthers clear cap space, send three to Chicago

Did you save yourself some time and publish the Trocheck sends Panthers packing in an early playoff exit article yet? — @mikecostan

I am ready to hit send. Just tell me when.

Can Bob be moved? Is there any reason to start Driedger and risk a bad game or injury if he was being traded? Why promote Knight if no trade imminent? — @Floridalife38

Get FHN+ today!

Driedger is not being moved. I know it has been floated out there and even I alluded to it the other night, but Florida is not going to get back enough of a return to justify getting rid of a big part of this team.

Is Bobrovsky the starter? Yes. But if he gets hurt, Driedger gives you a chance. Enjoy him while he’s here.

As for Knight being promoted, perhaps he gets a game in Dallas. We will see soon enough. As for Bob being moved, he has a full no-trade and makes $10 million a year. So, no.

Do you think the team adds a top 6 forward or do they look for depth this weekend? Do they have the right defensive pieces or did Zito’s focus shift to defensive options? — @BoozyBeggarChi

I think the Panthers are in the running to land a top-6 forward, a depth forward who preferably is a center as well as a top-4 defenseman. I think the defense has been fine, we have to keep an eye on Matt Kiersted due to his inexperience, but there is always room for improvement.

Do you think Zito is going to drop the shoe and get us a top dman? — @pamela_abrell

I don’t know if he’s dropping any footwear, but yeah.

Why did ownership allow Tallon to trade Trocheck for nothing at the deadline last year? Lame duck GM, a team needing more than depth fixes, and the return for an elite 2C was 2 rentals, an AHL’er, and a 3C. Why did they okay this, knowing Tallon’s tenure was almost done? — @themattdaddy05

The trade looks terrible right now. But was Trocheck an elite 2C last year? Joel Quenneville certainly didn’t think so. If ownership knew Dale was gone, yeah, I don’t think they would have allowed that to happen but I don’t think the decision had been made.

This was a move to shake things up and Trocheck’s play at the end of last season (one point in eight games or something) seemed to justify the trade.

At least short term.

Trocheck looks like his old self again. He was not very good the past two years and I understand, it took time for him to get healthy. But there was a chance he would not get back to where he was.

I do think Florida could have gotten more for Trocheck,  although some people questioned Carolina for giving as much as they did. Haula may have been the big name, but Wallmark was said to be the big piece. He hasn’t worked out although now he gets a second chance.

“Did they watch him?” is something I heard from a number of scouts following the trade. Trocheck is making everyone look silly right now and Carolina looks pretty smart.

Who would you like to see most on the Panthers after the deadline? — @panthers_report

From a completely selfish standpoint, I would like to see Nick Foligno and Dmitry Kulikov come this way. Erik Gudbranson too. Good quotes, better guys.

Hey George, not necessarily trade deadline related, but was wondering if you happened to hear anything regarding the Panthers players getting vaccinated as we have heard from other clubs around the league. Thank you. — Haydon Hughes

Hey Haydon. I have not heard anything; last I heard, the team did not want to “jump the line” and Florida is still at the 40-plus mark right now. They could have gotten their first doses on the road, however. I will check out.

Was today’s deal today to clear cap space from Connolly and Borgstrom and Stillman were the cost for that? — @matt_nathanson

Yeah, we knew to unload a contract like that (two more years at $3.5 million each) would take a sweetener. You could argue Stillman went for Wallmark and Carlsson but it was Borgstrom for taking on Connolly’s money.

Now, Connolly could end up being a nice piece for Chicago. I think he’ll do OK when he gets a chance to play again. But that’s how far Borgstrom’s stock has fallen. Two years ago, he would have been the centerpiece to a deal; today he is sweetener in a salary dump.

I do think it is too early to give up on Borgstrom. The guy has talent and is very smart. He’ll get going again and it’ll be Chicago which benefits. All for taking on a little money from Florida. Nice risk.

Since my second favorite team (Red Wings) play in the same division this year I don’t see any games outside the Central bubble. Just wondering how do you feel the Panthers stack up against other top teams ie Capitals, Maple Leafs? If this were a normal season would they be just as good? — Craig Mirek

Fantastic question. Yeah, I think the Panthers would stack up just fine. We know Carolina and Tampa Bay are elite and the Panthers are in (just about) every one of those games. We have a long way to go before we have to worry about anyone else but the Central.

Like I was telling someone the other day, if the Panthers make it to the NHL semifinals this year and finally face someone outside the Central, they’re playing with house money anyway.

Nice to say “next man up” but how do you think the Panthers are tolerating Ekblad’s absence so well so far?? — @MarkWeber1

I know everyone is looking right at Gus Forsling — and I am as well — but I think the play of MacKenzie Weegar and Radko Gudas has been really impressive.

Weegar has always been a little underrated and that’s probably because he was a seventh round pick. The guy can play. He is a terrific defenseman.

And Gudas? Every time he is on the ice he is doing something noticeable. Usually you don’t want to notice a defensive defenseman but it’s hard not to see Gudas because he is always in the play.

Hey George,

What is the infatuation Q has with Mason Marchment? He is so obviously not a top line player, yet there he is playing alongside Barkov. Other young players make one mistake and they’re done. Tippett? Denisenko? Heponiemi? It’s to the point where I have to turn the game off because I cannot watch a player like that play over Huberdeau on the top line. Q needs a wake up call. Cats will be golfing in no time if not. — Austin Fisken

Hey Austin,

I think Joel likes the underdog aspect of Marchment as he seems to be a player who will do whatever you ask of him. Barkov may like having a player like him on his line as well. Is it perfect? Of course not. Anthony Duclair was great in that role but has been out. He may be back up there tomorrow.

As far as Huberdeau being on the second line, I think it is more to give the Panthers a second scoring line as much as anything. Spread the wealth if you will. If Florida gets Hall, I could see Huberdeau back up with Barkov, Hall with Wennberg and Duclair moving around.

Who do you think are our best two options to upgrade our defense? — Thomas Ciampi

The biggest defenseman out there is Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm. He is signed for one more year and with the Preds back in the playoff hunt, he may be off the market.

But, if Nashville thinks he’s gone after next year anyway, they may try and get as much as they can for him now. Or, that’s an offseason deal. Same goes for Ryan Ellis, although I don’t think he fits here because of his hefty salary and term.

After that, I like Savard, Ryan Murray, Kulikov, Rasmus Ristolainen, Josh Manson and Brandon Montour.

Do you think Tippett is viewed as a potential trade chip, or as an untouchable? I wouldn’t have thought he was going anywhere, but seeing him pulled out amid all the precautionary scratches definitely had me curious about how Zito views him as part of the team’s future. — @VictorERatt96

Yeah, he’s a potential trade chip as is about 2/3rds of the Florida roster. There are only a handful of untouchable/untradeable players here.

If there’s a big deal and Tippett is part of the cost, Zito is going to think long and hard about it. I like Tippett, I think he is developing well. He is on the verge of breaking out. I know the Panthers would like to see that breakout right here.

Hey George,

I guess my question is two parts:

1: Given the fact we just brought on Spencer Knight and Driedger being a UFA after this season, do you think Driedger is on the trading block?

2: Whether Driedger gets traded or we lose him to free agency, what does that mean for Knight in the expansion draft? Could we end up losing Knight to Seattle since we would have to protect Bob with the NMC and odds are Knight will have at least made his NHL debut by then?

Thanks, stay safe. — Jordan Moses

Hey Jordan,

1: I do not think Driedger is on the trade block. Knight was brought up here to learn, to get a taste of the NHL and perhaps play in a game or two along the way. If Bob or Driedger gets hurt, different story.

2: Knight is completely protected from the Seattle expansion draft. Florida WILL have to protect Bobrovsky due to his NMC (unless, of course, they asked him to waive it and he did) so, right now, the Panthers will leave Sam Montembeault exposed. Unless, of course, the Panthers trade for another goalie with a year of term they could leave out there.

Hi George, my question is threefold and is Buffalo-centric.

1. How high is Zito on Hall?

2. Could he be brought in with one of Buffalo’s defenseman as part of a package deal?

3. Would Zito want Hall or any other deadline acquisitions to resign here so as not to “mortgage the future”? — Terence Graham

Hi Terence, I miss going to Buffalo.

1. I really do not know how high he is on him although if the cost is right, and the Sabres are retaining some salary, I am sure they would love to have him.

2. Absolutely he could. I would not be surprised to see Hall come in with either Ristolainen or Montour. Not surprised at all.

3. It all depends on the financial cost and what you gave up in futures. Some players the Panthers will bring in as pure rentals but others, yeah, they may want to keep for a while.

What is it going to take to move Yandle? Getting tired of this 7 defense lineup just so Yandle plays 5-10 minutes to keep the streak alive. — @SeanZawodny

It would take Keith waiving his NMC and finding a team who would like to have him. We will be talking about this during the offseason, I think.

Hey George, do you think that part of the reason behind the trade was to get some extra cap space to resign Barkov long term? — @mrdoft

Maybe but I think it was more short term. Barkov is signed for one more year after this one and they can “start” talking about an extension on July 1.

Even if Barkov does sign on then, the money doesn’t kick in until 2022-23 which would have been the final year of Connolly’s contract.

Yes, you would rather give that $3.5 million to Barkov but Connolly’s contract probably would have been off the books by then anyway. They just traded him earlier than we thought they could/would.

Are the Panthers worried about chemistry and influence on their younger players with trading possibly Taylor Hall or a troublemaker like D’Angelo ( please no)? — Alan R.

I think they feel that the leadership on the team is strong enough to deal with anyone. And I would be surprised to see them take a flier on Tony D.

Did Stillman want out of Florida? — @calvey4r

Maybe he did. He was definitely not getting the playing time (until lately) that he thought he would when the season started. He will get a better opportunity in Chicago. Or not. He has nine games to go before he’ll have to be protected in the expansion draft. Chicago may just play him in eight and scratch him for the rest.

Who do you believe we plan on letting go in the expansion? — @BigThiccy6

If the expansion draft was today, it would probably be Forsling. With three defenseman protected (sure, you could do four like Florida did in 2017) you’re looking at protecting Yandle (NMC), Ekblad and Weegar.

Florida knows it is going to lose a good player. Everyone does. Deal with it.

I am not sure Zito is going to make a deal with Seattle after seeing a few teams (Florida and Columbus included) get burned by such deals in 2017.

Hey George

If you fire up the Seattle Expansion Draft simulator who would you protect right now if you’re Bill Zito?

Is a Keith Yandle buyout a possibility? Would help keep another defenceman especially since they seem to really like Forsling

Thanks — Ben Fisher

Hey Ben

Buying out Keith Yandle is an option but not a good one. Because of signing bonus money owed, he would have a cap reduction of over $5 million in 2022-23 and would have money on the books for four years instead of two. He would not have to be protected, of course, freeing up Florida to protect someone else. But it will come at a big cost — and only a $2 million savings.

That question about the Yandle buyout poses another question. Will the Panthers be able to do the buyout before the expansion draft? It appears that thee may be enough time for them to do that but are there any strictures in the draft rules or the NHLPA contract that would forbid it? — Bob E.

Yes, if the Panthers decided to buy someone out they would have time to do so before the expansion draft.

This sure looks like Zito wants his prints all over this team. All the overpaid Tallon guys are either gone or on the block. Yandle at the top of the list and Stralman not far behind. I hope that Zito is thinking long term. I do not really want to see Hall as a short term rental. I hate getting rid of young assets just to clear cap space. Looks like Zito goes to his old stomping in Columbus for players. Hope he can find another team or two to make buddies with. Are you hearing ANY rumors that seem legit? — fan4pan

Right now, all rumors are just that. GMs don’t leak stuff out until a deal is close because they don’t want anyone getting spooked. Just remember to follow the blue checks. Lot of fake accounts running around this time of year.

Can we trade Dunkin Donuts for Tim Horton’s?  I hear they make amazing bagels. — @ferrdistheword

I don’t want to trade all the DDs but it would be nice to swap a few out for Tims. How about a few more Wawas?

If I can’t have Tims down here, more Wawas would work. Maybe a Sheetz or two.

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