It's a subtle strategy, but I see right through you Dale Tallon. Yes, you're spending lots of money. Yes, you're bringing in lots of free agents. Yes, the optics are that you have made yourself a competitive team. But I know what you're really doing. And might I say, sir - it's brilliant.


Tallon has already proven that he can build a winning hockey club. A Cup-winning hockey club. Is he doing it again? It's not that easy this time, because Chicago had a dormant fanbase that re-awakened at the first sign of winning. The Florida fanbase is just plain dying. But it's a four-year plan.


In the meantime, load up on some of the better free agents out there, get to the salary floor, and whichever player overachieves - trade him in February. For draft picks. He didn't overacheive? Well, that's fine too. Maybe next year he will. In which case trade him at that time - again, for draft picks. Or perhaps prospects? Even better.


If, in the off chance, a hidden gem is uncovered (the way Patrick Sharp was, in Chicago), then you add him to your rebuilding model. For this, I'm thinking Tomas "Flash" Fleischmann. You build your team around the hidden gem (the guess here is Flash), the high-priced veteran (Brian Campbell), the franchise goaltender (Jacob Markstrom), the potential star forward (Jonathan Huberdeau) and the stud defenseman (Erik Gudbranson). Fill in the rest of the holes from within. Four years from now, most of these contracts are up (or the players will be traded, as I noted above). The Panthers have another three drafts with which to add to the young core.


Build around:

Markstrom, Huberdeau, Gudbranson, Campbell and the hidden gem (Fleischmann?).


The most promising youngsters (defensemen):

Colby Robak, Dimitry Kulikov, Keaton Ellerby, Alex Petrovic


The most promising youngsters (forwards):

Shawn Matthias, Evgeni Dadonov, Jack Skille, Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden, Drew Shore, John McFarland, Michal Repik


If two of those defensemen and three of those forwards pan out, you have yourself a core of 10 players. Add four more thanks to the next three drafts, one or two free agents over the next three summers and voila! You have yourself a contender.


But how can the Panthers get a reasonable draft pick, considering they have just beefed up their team? That's the beauty of what Mr. Tallon has done. He has made this team competitive, but added a terrible goaltender! Hell, Scott Clemmensen with Markstrom as the backup make a better tandem than Jose Theodore starting 60 games! But at the same time, fans can't criticize him for it. After all - Theodore is a former Hart Trophy winner, right? So optically, it looks as though Tallon is icing the best team that he can. But realistically, the team will still get a Top 10 pick next year.


Prediction: Four of the free agents/recent trade acquisitions are traded before the deadline for picks and/or prospects.


Prediction II: The Panthers continue to struggle in their market. I can only hope that fans hang in there for three more years. If so, they will be rewarded.


Possible Line Combos:


Booth - Weiss - Fleischmann

Upshall - Matthias - Bergenheim

Kopecky - Santorelli - Versteeg

Dadonov - Goc - Skille

Bradley - Kennedy - Repik


It's unfortunate that, for the second year in a row, Kennedy doesn't get a real shot. He's already played a full NHL season, why would a simple arbitration ruling banish him from this league? Unfortunate. I also hope that Matthias does not get pushed down the depth chart. Fortunately, the team is high on him, but he needs to build on what he was doing before breaking his ankle in February. I'm also implying that they wait one year on Huberdeau. A struggling team would play him. But the Panthers have added enough depth that they can let him develop for another year. Besides, he may help them win, and we can't have that can we?


Possible d-man depth chart:


Campbell - Gudbranson

Jovanovski - Kulikov

Garrison - Ellerby








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Jaxx said:

Agree with Anze jovo - 4 yrs, upshall - 4 yrs, kopecky - 4 yrs, flash - 4 yrs, goc - 3 yrs, bergenheim - 4 yrs....not exactly studs.... tallon had to get to the floor plain and simple. tallon essentially has a decently competitive team now BUT he really is just buying time (3-4 years) until markstrom, kulikov, gudbranson, huberdeau, ellerby, matthias etc all mature. maybe in the 3rd year of those 4 year contracts, he might be able to ship a vet or two. they won't be marketable until then.
July 06, 2011
Votes: -1

Ryan Van Horne said:

Forgot to mention Doughty In addition to targeting Stamkos, I would have gone after Doughty as Plan A, with Yandle as Plan B. Either one of those guys would have been preferable to Brian Campbell.
July 06, 2011
Votes: +0

fzusher said:

... I actually like this theory quite a bit (evidence: of all the new contracts, only Theodore and Upshall got movement clauses, and Upshall's is a modified one) - with a year's delay. Unless a new CBA is signed before February (highly unlikely), very few GMs (if at all) will add a risky multiyear contract this season. So this deadline, Versteeg (pending RFA), Weaver and Garrison are the main trade bait. But if these players overachieve consistently over the season, and if there is a new CBA by the draft, they may be tradeable at the next draft. More likely, 2013.

Also, more scoring from FLA plus more goals scored on FLA may mean a bit more butts in seats ...
July 06, 2011
Votes: +1

DuklaNation said:

... Tallon is crazy like a fox or just plain crazy. There HAD to be better options for reaching the floor. I predict his moves will cause salary inflation like the Penner deal with EDM. Looks more like an expansion roster.
July 06, 2011
Votes: +2

Ryan Van Horne said:

typo That's one thing I like about you, Dobber, you make *me* think.
July 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Van Horne said:

Brilliant, eh? As always, we can count on you for the Contrarian view. That's one thing I like about you, Dobber, you make think.

Not sure that I would go so far as to call it brilliant but it could end up working in his favour I guess. It will require some work. A better way to spend the money, IMO, would have been to be more judicious in the UFA signings and more strategic with respect to RFAs. Luring some RFAs to town such as Stamkos (big challenge, but it would have stoked that Florida rivalry beyond belief) and Yandle.

As for trading all of these contracts in one season, it can't happen and fulfill the goals of the strategy as you lay it out because the team will have to be cap compliant at all times during the season. So, while they might be able to move some players and their contracts for picks/prospects,
July 06, 2011
Votes: -2

AL said:

grindin griers
Maybe another hole ... Not sure on this, but if they are trading these players for picks/prospects how do they stay above the cap floor? They would have to get some salary coming back their way.
July 06, 2011
Votes: +1

mrgreer77 said:

solid article I think you're on to something Dobber! I just wonder how many Panther fans there will be after another 3-4 years of finishing in the bottom 10.
July 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Dale McCarthy said:

Thunbs up! Excellent perspective, Dobber!
July 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Anze said:

The hole in the theory I like your idea, but I find it hard to believe that he can move the players he just signed, since he gave 4-year contracts to most of them. Even if they overachieve somewhat, what team will take such contracts ? It would have work with 1- or 2-year contracts I believe.
July 06, 2011
Votes: +2

Jeff Angus said:

... Interesting take, Dobber.

One thing - Weaver and Garrison were FLA's top pairing last season (and surprisingly, one of the best defensive pairings in the entire league). Can't see them being split up.

A ton of interesting line combos - I think you have the top line bang on. Lines 2 and 3 are completely interchangeable.
July 06, 2011
Votes: +0
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