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With Ekblad hurt, who could the Panthers get at the trade deadline?

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Florida Panthers trade Ekblad
Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Nashville d-man Mattias Ekholm battle in front of the net in a game at BB&T Center earlier this month. // Photo by Roger Topalian 21st Century Photography (561) 488-0000

The Florida Panthers are in the thick of a playoff race in the NHL Central with the trade deadline coming soon. After losing Aaron Ekblad to a serious injury Sunday night, the Panthers have to be considered serious buyers on the market.

Make no mistake, the Panthers are definitely in go-for-it mode.

The window to winning a Stanley Cup doesn’t open often — especially when it comes to the Panthers.

General manager Bill Zito, coach Joel Quenneville and — perhaps most importantly — owner Vinnie Viola believe this team is as close to the promised land as it has been since 1996.

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That was true before Ekblad appeared to seriously injury his left leg Sunday night in Dallas and it is true today.

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