February 22, 2011
As we approach the trade deadline, the Eastern Conference teams south of the playoff bubble are methodically selling off assets.
The Ottawa Senators have shed salary and centers, and are
waiting to see which team
forgot to flip its calendar from 2008
trades for Alexei Kovalev. The Toronto Maple Leafs are stockpiling picks and
prospects while Brian Burke still bellows about the playoffs.
The Florida Panthers, tied with the Leafs at 57 points, made the Michael Frolik(notes) trade with the Chicago Blackhawks but have yet to really get their sell on. That might change after yesterday's 5-1 loss at the New York Islanders, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald after speaking to Pete DeBoer:
"It's frustrating, no doubt. You grind for four or five months to get to this point where we have an opportunity to make some noise and don't do it,'' DeBoer said.
Instead, the Panthers will likely now go ahead with their fire sale.
Any arguments to keep this team together may have been lost after Monday's miserable performance.
We all know goalie Tomas Vokoun(notes) is the biggest name available from the Panthers, should he waive his no-trade clause to move; but what other assets do the 'Cats have that could help your contender challenge for the Chalice?
Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel provided a handy shopping list for the Panthers at the deadline, believing that the contracts for David Booth(notes) and Rostislav Olesz(notes) "make them virtually untradable."
From Fialkov, the Panthers' garage sale looks like this:
Tomas Vokoun, goaltender, unrestricted free agent: 35-year-old is still in top 10 in save percentage and could help playoff contender. He's being shopped, but a $5.7 million tag is an expensive rental.
Along with Vokoun, Stillman, McCabe, Dvorak and Weiss all have no-trade clauses.
Dvorak could fetch a pick, as would Reasoner (who could be a nice depth forward for the right team). Not sure what the market is for Wideman, especially when other options on the power-play blueline like John-Michael Liles(notes) of the Colorado Avalanche and Wideman's own Panthers teammate McCabe are out there. (McCabe to the New York Rangers continues to make sense.) Stillman's your Ray Whitney(notes)-esque veteran addition to special teams for this deadline.
Which brings up back to Vokoun. Litter Box Cats, a Panthers blog, has been running an in-depth "Panthers Trade Deadline" feature covering many of these players, and recently looked at Vokoun's fate:
Why he'll be traded: Vokoun is potentially too valuable at the deadline for Tallon to not be actively shopping him to interested teams. Vokoun has a no-trade clause and has stated he wants to stay in Florida, but would likely waive it to go to a contender. Backup Scott Clemmensen has shown he can go the distance and was likely signed out of New Jersey for this very reason. It is unlikely that the Panthers will make the playoffs this season, making Vokoun expendable for this year. The Panthers have a good young group of goalies coming up through the system, and at least one of them is quite likely to be NHL starter caliber within the next couple of seasons. Clemmensen is signed for one more year and the team could trade Vokoun expecting that Clemmensen will start next year.
The no-movement clause and his pro-rated cap hit (around $1.25 million, according to Litter Box Cats) are the mitigating factors here. But out of all of the Panthers' assets, this one's the difference-maker. No, he doesn't have a body of work in the postseason; but that's more about the teams he played for than the way he played for them.
Question is: What will it take to get him, and will he go?