Last summer in Miami, a professional sports team spent $327 million on three free agents over six-year terms. That team played for the NBA championship and lost. That league is now in a lockout.
In his first free-agent frenzy in South Florida, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon hasn't done anything with that level of audacity … at least yet. But he's added $67.6 million in payroll over the next four years in signing six free agents on July 1, the latest being Sean Bergenheim of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
From the Panthers:
Florida Panthers Executive Vice President & General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that the club has agreed to terms with LW Sean Bergenheim on a four-year contract.
Bergenheim joins F Kris Versteeg, F Tomas Fleischmann, F Scottie Upshall, F Marcel Goc, D Ed Jovanovski, G Jose Theodore, D Brian Campbell and F Tomas Kopecky as new Panthers signings over the last week. "We are very pleased to have signed Sean," said Tallon. "He is a fast and hard-working forward who recorded a career best 29 points last season and adds further depth to our line-up."
Bergenheim, 27, has played in 326 career National Hockey League games with NY Islanders (2003-10) and Tampa Bay Lightning (2010-11) scoring 54 goals with 55 assists and 251 PIM. He appeared in 80 games with Tampa Bay last year registering 29 points (14-15-29) and 56 PIM. In 16 post season contests with Tampa Bay he scored nine goals with two assists.
Per TSN, it's a 4-year, $11-million contract with a $2.75 million cap hit.
Bergenheim was one of the trickier free agents to figure, given that it was his postseason performance with the Lightning that opened the most eyes. But given that Joel Ward turned an MVP performance in the playoffs for the Predators into a 4-year deal with the Capitals and Bergenheim did the same with the Panthers, perhaps that's how much weight playoff heroism carries.
Good to see the Panthers take one from their state rivals. Anything to grow some animosity there.
Oh, by the way, on a Steven Stamkos offer sheet, Dale Tallon said he had "no comment on that" when asked in a Friday press conference. Now that would grow some animosity …