The Florida Panthers made their second trade in just over a week Friday as the retooling of their defense continues with Josh Brown going to the Ottawa Senators for a fourth round pick.
Brown, 26, was a rare Florida draft success story as he was a sixth-round pick in 2013 and played in parts of 93 games with the Panthers.
Over the past two seasons, Brown was used as a six-seven defenseman but he did play in 56 games this season — not including the final two against the Islanders in the qualifying round.
New general manager Bill Zito has made it obvious that fixing the Florida defense is a priority this offseason and Brown is the second player to depart since Toronto.
Last week, Zito sent Mike Matheson to Pittsburgh along with fourth-liner Colton Sceviour for veteran winger Patric Hornqvist.
Florida has been mentioned as being a team which has interest in high-profile defensive free agents Alex Pietrangelo and Torey Krug.
Either player would command quite a hefty contract.
By dealing Brown, the Panthers add some draft stock (they now have eight picks in the remote draft which starts Tuesday night) and free up a roster spot.
Six of the Panthers’ eight draft picks are in the top four rounds including No. 12 overall.
Brown was in the final year of a two-year contract he signed and is a pending restricted free agent who would be due a nice raise off the $675,000 he had been averaging over the past two seasons.
For Ottawa, which picked Florida’s Jayce Hawryluk off waivers at the end of last season which worked out well, is is getting a physical defenseman in Brown.
At 6-foot-5, Brown has shown to be a dependable defenseman who will throw his body around.
For Florida, moving two defensemen early in the offseason means — at least right now, anyway — Brady Keeper and Chase Priskie’s odds of being on this team next season have improved quite a bit.