Since taking back control of the Florida Panthers franchise in April, general manager Dale Tallon has been busy reshaping his roster this offseason after the team failed to make the playoffs this past year. He unloaded young wing Reilly Smith and his large contract to Vegas along with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Jon Marchessault to remove future cap problems that likely would have arisen. He handed out a one-year deal to free agent scorer Radim Vrbata to make up for some of that goal scoring and brought back former Panther Evgeni Dadonov from the KHL on a reasonable three-year deal. He also re-signed penalty killing defenseman Mark Pysyk to a three-year deal. However, his focus has been on building a team around its youthful core, including Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad and defenseman Aaron Ekblad, all who are 24 years of age or under and already locked up long-term. However, the Panthers might be ready to add another name to that list.
The Panthers seem ready to give their 2017 first-rounder Owen Tippett every chance to join their young team immediately, according to NBC Sports Adam Gretz. After an impressive showing at their development camp, Tallon was quick to point out that Tippett will be given every opportunity to make the squad this year.
“He’s going to get every opportunity,” said Tallon (via the Panthers). “I don’t have any problem and [head coach Bob Boughner] and our coaching staff don’t have any issues playing young guys. We’re building a team that’s going to be around for a long time and we’ll give him every opportunity to play this year.”
Tippett, who is a pure scorer, would fill a major need as many of their top players are playmakers rather than goal producers. The 18-year-old is coming off a season in which he scored 44 goals for Mississaugua Steelheads in the OHL last year. He was ranked as the seventh-best North American skater by NHL.com.