The Florida Panthers are making a big push to become a winning team now and hope that after the acquisition of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky as well as Brett Connolly and Noel Acciari will be enough to get there. One reason the team wants to win now is that the Panthers have only reached the playoffs five times in their 25 year history and its time for that to change.
However, The Athletic’s George Richards (subscription required) writes that another reason that the team has pushed up its intensity towards fielding the best team possible is that it still has many core players who are under reasonable contracts, but that could change in the next three years. Aleksander Barkov has just three years remaining at a team-friendly $5.9MM and then will likely see his salary skyrocket. Vincent Trocheck also has three years remaining at a reasonable $4.75MM and Jonathan Huberdeau is currently the longest tenured forward at four years at $5.9MM. Already next season, the franchise will have to make some costly decisions on Mike Hoffman, who has one year remaining at $5.19MM, and Evgenii Dadonov makes $4MM for one more year. Both are expected to score big raises, especially if they can keep their offense going this season.
With the potential of eventually losing a number of their top forwards, the Panthers are making it clear that they want to win with this group now rather than hope their young prospects can quickly replace those that will eventually leave.
- After acquiring defenseman Jordan Schmaltz Thursday from the St. Louis Blues, it looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs’ main reasoning might have been to get a solid replacement for recently traded Calle Rosen. The Maple Leafs had high hopes for Rosen, but because he was left-handed, there was concern how he might fit into the lineup. The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons writes that the team liked Schmaltz because he was right-handed and was an impressive skater, something that Andreas Borgman isn’t. While he doesn’t necessarily have Rosen’s upside, Schmaltz at least should be able to provide better depth for the team on that side.
- Diana Nearhos of the Tampa Bay Times writes that Tampa Bay Lightning fans that are constantly worried about the fact that restricted free agent Brayden Point hasn’t signed a contract yet, need to stop worrying. The scribe writes that there is plenty of cap space, up to $11.4MM, once they place Ryan Callahan on LTIR and the fact that Montreal showed interest in having Point sign an offer sheet even before they signed Sebastian Aho to one and he refused is a sign that he has every intention of staying in Tampa Bay.