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No Trades for Florida Panthers – Or Anyone – On Day 1 of NHL Draft



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Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito, far left, sits at the team table awaiting the start of the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville on Wednesday night. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

NASHVILLE — Although some had predicted a busy night for wheeling and dealing on the opening night of the NHL Draft on Tuesday, a grand total of zero trades were completed by the time the Vegas Golden Knights walked off the stage after making pick No. 32.

According to Frank Seravalli, this was the first time there were no trades in the opening round of an NHL Draft since 2007.

The first round of the draft, thought to be one of the deepest in a long time, went off very smoothly although some fans certainly would have liked Commissioner Gary Bettman to interrupt the proceedings with his rising “we have a trade to announce.”

With six more rounds scheduled for today, there will be plenty of time for deals to be made.

The Florida Panthers were thought to be in the running to do something on Tuesday although, truthfully, getting into the first round was not one of them.

Which means whatever general manager Bill Zito has been working on can be completed today.

For instance, when Zito swung a deal with Buffalo for Sam Reinhart in 2021, a first-round pick from that draft was not in play so the trade was not completed until the second day.

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On Tuesday, Zito appeared to be continuing to talk to his fellow GMs at times but mostly spent his time at the team table — which was in the back with the rest of the 2023 Final Four participants — talking with other members of his front office such as Roberto Luongo, Rick Dudley, Brett Peterson among others.

“It’s tough without a pick,’’ Zito said after the first round was complete. “But you never know. We certainly investigated a few different things but it’s OK. You never know. Sometimes things will work out where you didn’t necessarily envision what someone’s needs might be. Maybe you can get some things done but not today.”

The busiest person among the Florida contingent was Zito’s daughter Frankie who rushed around filling drink orders — there was a lot of coffee going around — in an oversized No. 23 Panthers home jersey with her last name on it.

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Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito and his daughter Frankie on the floor of the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville on Wednesday night. / Photo @GeorgeRichards

Her twin sister Gigi gets to work the floor today.

“She did a wonderful job and I am blessed that both girls are here,” Bill Zito said.

The Panthers will actually get to the business of stocking their organizational depth today when the second round of the draft kicks off at 11 a.m.

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Florida has five picks starting with No. 63 in the second round.

With so many still available on the team’s extensive prospect list, expect a nice mix of position players to be chosen.

Luongo may bring in another goalie as well.

“We certainly need to restock,” Zito said. “If we can get more (picks) we will certainly try. We have one pick in the second round and if we can add, we will. You don’t know until things present themselves. We will be aggressive.”


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