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The Florida Panthers Could Soon Make a Cost-Cutting Trade

Anthony Duclair could return from injury by Christmas. The Florida Panthers don't have cap space to bring him back, so a move must be made.
Anthony Duclair

Since the start of the season, the Florida Panthers have had Anthony Duclair on long-term injured reserve to give themselves some salary-cap flexibility. With the 27-year-old winger expected to return from Achilles tendon surgery sometime in December, the Panthers will have to make a move to become cap compliant.

Cap Friendly shows Duclair's average annual value is $3 million, with the Panthers sitting above the $82.5-million salary cap by over $2.765 million. Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli reported Duclair has resumed skating and could be back in the lineup by Christmas. Given their limited salary-cap space, he believes they “absolutely must make a trade” before then.

Seravalli suggested the easiest solution would be trading Duclair, but that's not their only option. He also proposed that they could move another player of value such as Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett.

Moving either one would hurt their scoring depth. Duclair enjoyed a career-best 31 goals and 58 points last season with the Panthers as did Reinhart with 33 goals and 82 points and the versatile Bennett with 28 goals and 49 points.

Reinhart's production is down so far this season with just 10 points in 20 games skating on the third line. His annual cap hit is $6.5 million through 2023-24. Bennett, meanwhile, is enjoying a solid campaign on the second line with 15 points in 20 games. 

Bennett's performance, two-way skills and affordable $4.425-million cap hit through 2024-25 could prove more attractive on the trade market. However, moving Reinhart's contract would provide the Panthers with more wiggle room under the salary cap once Duclair returns to action.

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