The Florida Panthers’ trade of Brett Connolly earlier today was seemingly a precursor to something more, perhaps even a lot more. The trade opens up even more cap room for a Panthers’ team that already had substantial space, seemingly allowing them to do whatever they want at the trade deadline. With an estimated $16.4MM in full-season cap space per CapFriendly, no one is off limits to the Cats, who are looking to make the most of their firm playoff position in the Central Division. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports during the latest edition of “Insider Trading” that Florida is seeking both a top-six forward and top-four defenseman and with this additional space, there is no reason why they can’t address both if they can find reasonable trades. LeBrun notes that the Panthers were one of the teams discussing Kyle Palmieri with the New Jersey Devils prior to yesterday’s deal and will have to look elsewhere for help up front. On the blue line, LeBrun believes that rookie GM Bill Zito could look to reunite with David Savard, one of his former players in Columbus and a player heavily expected to be dealt before the deadline. One way or another, the Panthers are absolutely a buyer and a team to watch as Monday’s deadline approaches.
- As for the other side of this morning’s trade, the Chicago Blackhawks are expected to continue to use their cap room in hopes of adding other assets, LeBrun reports. Today’s deal not only landed a serviceable forward in Connolly, but also two nice young assets in Riley Stillman and Henrik Borgstrom. GM Stan Bowman would like to make as many of these types of deals as he can before the deadline. With so many teams across the league struggling with cap space, the Blackhawks could net several other pieces by offering up their financial flexibility. Specifically, LeBrun notes that Bowman has been talking to the Maple Leafs about a trade that would free up some space in Toronto.
- The Maple Leafs have been searching for a forward for some time, but it has not been going well. Not only are the Leafs dealing with a cap crunch, but their targets keep disappearing from the market too. Frank Seravalli reports that Toronto had previously shown strong interest in both Palmieri and Nashville’s Mikael Granlund; Palmieri is now an Islander and the Predators are in playoff position. The team will have to look elsewhere, but don’t expect them to turn to Taylor Hall. While Darren Dreger notes that interest in Hall is picking up with Palmieri off the market, Seravalli notes that the Leafs are not a suitor. Both Hall’s cap cost and the asking price to acquire him are thought to be too much for GM Kyle Dubas. That could change if Toronto finds a way to open up cap space and the bidding war for Hall fizzles out, but it seems unlikely that a deal will come together by Monday if the Leafs have shown no interest thus far.
- Tanner Pearson has finally signed a new contract with the Vancouver Canucks, but don’t worry a new extension-or-trade drama has already rose up to take it’s place. Seravalli reports that the Los Angeles Kings have been working hard to re-sign impending UFA forward Alex Iafallo and have previously turned away trade offers. However, the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement and time is running out. L.A. is now finally listening to offers for Iafallo, though extension talks continue. The Kings still hope to re-sign the 27-year-old scorer, but will have no choice but to trade him if a deal is not in place by Monday. L.A. is too far outside of a playoff spot right now to justify keeping Iafallo only to watch him walk for nothing as a free agent.