With a handful of young players ready to make the jump the NHL, the Florida Panthers may be looking to ship out some veterans who are on expiring contracts. Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky, and Sean Bergenheim are among likely trade candidates.
NHL teams shopping around for veteran depth should get in touch with Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon. According Sun-Sentinel.com’s Harvey Fialkov, a team source claims the Panthers want to ship out some “unnamed veterans” to make room for youngsters Vincent Trocheck, Rocco Grimaldi and Quinton Howden.
Fialkov believes forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Tomas Kopecky and Sean Bergenheim are the likely trade candidates. The trio were part of Tallon’s mass acquisition of veteran talent during the summer of 2011. They become eligible for unrestricted free agency in July. Fleischmann could interest clubs seeking a skilled scorer while Kopecky and Bergenheim could prove worthwhile additions for those seeking checking-line help.
Though Tallon obviously won’t want much in return, the recent struggles and salaries of these three could prove difficult to move. Fleischmann has struggled offensively since last season, tallying only 28 points in 80 games in 2013-14 and two points in 17 games this season. The 30-year-old left wing is earning $4.5 million this season and carries a modified no-trade clause.
Wingers Kopecky ($3-million cap hit) and Bergenheim ($2.75 million) carry more affordable salaries and lack no-trade protection, but in recent seasons they’ve been sidelined for lengthy periods by injuries.
To swing a deal involving any of these three, Tallon could be forced to absorb part of their salary. That’s what he did early last season in order to ship winger Kris Versteeg to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Finding suitable trade partners is another problem. The Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks are believed shopping around for help, but they’re not in the market for left wingers. The Bruins seek a first-line right wing, the Oilers a top-line center, the Flyers need defensive help while the Sharks reportedly want to get younger.
Tallon’s best option could be the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose search for a top-six winger has become more urgent with left wing Pascal Dupuis sidelined by blood clots. Fleischmann, who tallied a career-best 27 goals and 61 points in 2011-12, might be a fit there, especially if Tallon agrees to absorb a chunk of his remaining salary.
Other clubs lacking depth include the Arizona Coyotes and the injury-ravaged Columbus Blue Jackets. The Buffalo Sabres also need help at left wing, but they’re in the midst of a significant rebuild and aren’t interested in expensive aging veterans.
NBC Sports’ Mike Halford also wonders if puck-moving defenseman Brian Campbell could be up for grabs. Halford notes Campbell reportedly sought a trade during the summer, but points out the defenseman’s $7.14-million annual cap hit through 2015-16 is a stumbling block.
Given Campbell’s salary, the earliest Tallon could deal him is near the March 2 trade deadline. Otherwise, he’ll have to wait until the summer, though the possibility of a stagnant salary cap for 2015-16 could also hamper that trade attempt.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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