The Florida Panthers have cleared a large amount of cap room this season by trading away players like Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann, and many have speculated that they’ll use it in free agency on targets like Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. While that may be true, it didn’t stop the team from going after another big fish at the trade deadline. Head coach Dale Tallon tells George Richards of The Athletic (subscription required) that the team made a “good offer” to the Ottawa Senators to try and get Mark Stone before the talented winger eventually went to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Stone is expected to sign a long-term extension with the Golden Knights, something Richards believes the Panthers were also willing to do if they could acquire the 26-year old. It makes sense, given the cap room that Florida has and already exceptional talent up front to surround Stone with. Interestingly though the team already has Mike Hoffman in the fold, who was unceremoniously ushered out of Ottawa after a very public feud with former Senators captain Erik Karlsson. It’s obviously not clear where Hoffman and Stone stand, but it didn’t stop the team from trying to acquire the latter.
Tallon admits that the team will be “very aggressive” at the end of the season, using their draft capital and cap space to improve the team. With a forward core already consisting of Hoffman, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Evgeni Dadonov the team has some real scoring punch. Adding a player like Stone or Panarin would make them even more dangerous, and with somewhere around $22MM in cap space (depending on where the ceiling lands) they have the room to do it and other things. The Panthers also own nine picks in the upcoming draft and could flip those for some more help.
At the very least, the fact that the Panthers were going hard to try and land a player of Stone’s caliber should be encouraging to the fan base. While this season hasn’t gone as hoped, there should be real excitement for an offseason that should be filled with fireworks.