When he convinced Brian Campbell to waive his no-trade clause for the Florida Panthers, GM Dale Tallon showed two things: That the Panthers desperately wanted to upgrade their level of NHL talent and that money was no object.
Which brings us to July 1, as Tallon snagged winger Scottie Upshall, former Panthers star defenseman Ed Jovanovski and goalie Jose Theodore in the first two hours of the free-agent frenzy.
For Upshall, the Campbell signing was a signal that the Panthers having the financial backing and the leadership in the front office to build a winner.
"Absolutely. Knowing a guy like Brian Campbell to leave a team like Chicago to come to a team like Florida," he said on TSN.
"Florida made a lot of sense. I really believe in what they're doing, and the guys they are brining in."
Upshall's contract is four years and $14 million, as he moves to his fifth NHL team since 2002-03. That's a $3.5 million annual hit.
But the Panthers weren't done, signing Jovanovski to a four-year deal soon after that. From George Richards from On Frozen Pond:
Jovanovski was the top pick of the 1994 NHL draft. He was part of the Panthers run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals but left when Florida sent him to Vancouver in the Pavel Bure deal.
Jovanovski has spent the past five seasons with the Coyotes. Jovanovski's first NHL contract came with the Panthers and this will likely be his last. He will be 35 when the 2011-12 season begins. He'll get $16.5 million over the course of the deal.
That's a $4.125 million annual hit.
The Panthers also added veteran goalie Jose Theodore from the Wild for two years and $3 million, spelling the end of Tomas Vokoun in Florida (one assumes). Also coming aboard is forward Marcel Goc for three years at $1.7 million per.
Are these players the cream of the free-agent crop? No. But they make the Panthers better and, like Campbell, are symbolic of a new aggressive stance by the franchise to contend for the playoffs — a welcome change when you consider just last summer Nathan Horton was begging out of Sunrise.
UPDATE: Another big move for Dale Tallon, and another ex-Blackhawks player to the Panthers. From the team:
Florida Panthers Executive Vice President & General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the club has acquired RW Kris Versteeg from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a conditional second round pick in the 2012 or 2013 NHL Entry Draft and San Jose's third round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft (previously acquired by Florida).
Some salary shed by the Flyers here, as Versteeg was set to make $3.083 million against the cap (per NHL Numbers).