The Florida Panthers iced a unique lineup on Tuesday night with not one, but two defensemen skating as forwards. While Mark Pysyk has served in that hybrid role frequently this season, Michael Matheson also tried his hand. The result was a win and goal and two assists for Matheson. While Matheson does not receive a tremendous amount of attention, the Boston College product has been a reliable two-way blue liner for Florida since day one and other teams are beginning to take notice. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Panthers have explored the trade market for Matheson this season. He believes that a number of teams are interested and after Tuesday’s display of versatility and offensive touch, there may now be a few more. The stumbling block to any trade though would be Matheson’s contract. The dependable defender actually has a very fair $4.875MM cap hit, but it is term that could be a problem. Matheson is in just the second year of a maximum eight-year contract that carries through the 2025-26 season. Any team looking to acquire Matheson has to be more than just interested, they have to be dedicated, as Matheson could be around for a long time. The Panthers probably won’t take a discount on a return due to the term of the deal though. Florida was happy to have Matheson in the fold for many years to come just a couple of seasons back and they likely will not move the homegrown defenseman without a strong return.
- Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli continues to be one of the hottest names on the market with a number of potential suitors. However, some think that the Philadelphia Flyers have emerged as the favorite to land the two-way winger. Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer added fuel to that fire by reporting that former Flyers GM Ron Hextall, now an employee of the Kings, is in Florida scouting Flyers-Panthers on Thursday night. The Kings have been scouting the Flyers frequently, but Hextall’s presence takes things up a notch. No one in L.A. knows Philadelphia better than Hextall and the team would likely not make a move without his seal of approval. Perhaps they will get that nod from Hextall on a potential return for Toffoli after tonight’s game.
- The Detroit Red Wings are hardly buyers in the trade market, but they will be looking to add in the off-season. One player that the team has been linked to is Swedish forward Fredrik Handemark. The 26-year-old center is a big, two-way center who has impressed for several years with the Malmo Redhawks of the SHL. In a season in which he has already matched his career high in points with weeks still to play, the consensus is that Handemark has outgrown Sweden and will look to make the jump to the NHL next season. Swedish news source Aftonbladet reports that there is interest from NHL teams, including the Red Wings, who Handemark calls his childhood favorite. Detroit has had great success with Swedes in the past, including a fellow two-way pivot in Henrik Zetterberg, and Handemark could be an affordable, effective addition for GM Steve Yzerman’s rebuilding club. Aftonbladet also mentions Orebro’s Mathias Brome, Farjestad’s Gustaf Rydahl, and HK Sochi’s Malte Strömwall as other Swedish standouts who have been linked to the Red Wings this season.