With the March 3 trade deadline quickly approaching, many teams are scrambling to make changes in their lineup. There have been a lot of trade rumors floating around the NHL, but the Florida Panthers have been pretty quiet. Florida said that they wanted to see if they were in playoff contention before they make a trade.
To me, that's a mistake. They are in playoff contention now. The Panthers are two points out of eighth place and this time-wasting could be the thing that ruins it. The front office needs to step in and fix this team before the time runs out.
The biggest on-ice problem with the team is offense. Right now, their defense has tightened up, but their offense still isn't scoring enough goals. Not only that, but the offense is making the defense's job tougher.
Florida's wingers are not playing well enough to make a meaningful attack. Some of the players listed on the roster as centers are being forced to play on the wings, mainly Michael Frolik. Florida has to get players that can sustain an attack.
Cap room is another thing that we have to consider. Since not all players' salaries are disclosed, we can only guess at what the cap room actually is. Most of the websites that I have seen give the Panthers $1-2 million in cap room. That's what I will be working with in this article.
Trade 1: Steven Reinprecht and a 5th Round Draft Pick (FLA) for Joel Ward (NSH)
Reinprecht and Ward are both having solid years. Reinprecht has 33 points this season with 13 goals, and Ward has 27 points with 11 goals, but has played in fewer games.
If Reinprecht played for Nashville, his numbers would put him near the top of the team in points and he would also bring a solid second or third line forward on the team. With the Predators being in the Western Conference playoff hunt, the bottom lines will be where they want to improve.
Joel Ward would be a solid winger for the Panthers. His 27 points would be the most out of any player listed as a winger on Florida's roster, and would probably fit on one of the top two lines. Again, this would give Florida a more meaningful attack and help keep the puck out of the defending zone.
However, there would have to be a draft pick thrown into the trade because Nashville is not going to trade one player that's doing well for another player that's doing well. Florida needs this trade to improve their top lines and get better chemistry, so Nashville needs to get something out of it.
Trade 2: Scott Clemenson (FLA) for Jakub Voracek (CBJ)
One of the biggest problems that I see with the Panthers (financially) is the amount of money they are giving Scott Clemenson. Right now, he is making $1 million and has only played in 12 games this season. If you're going to spend that kind of money, you should spend it on somebody who will spend more time on the ice.
Jakub Voracek is getting $875,000 this year, and will also be playing in more games. He's another winger that could fit on the second or third line. More importantly, he would be playing in every game.
Columbus is having a tough time in goal right now. Their starting goalie, Steve Mason, has a save percentage below .900, and their backup goalie is only a little better. Although Clemmenson's save percentage is currently at .888, he hasn't seen a steady stream of games, and hasn't been given a chance to get into a groove. In his 2008-09 campaign with the Devils, he saw a steady stream of games and got a save percentage of about .910.
Trade 3: Dmitry Kulikov, Shawn Matthias, and Kamil Kreps (FLA) for Kimmo Timonen (PHI)
I know it may be difficult to understand my thought process behind this one, it is a little out there. However, Timonen is 34 years old and his number probably won't improve over the next few years. Yes, the Flyers want to make the playoffs this year, but I'm sure Philly fans want the Flyers to go farther.
Timonen is not going to be the guy to take them farther. It's going to be somebody like Richards or Carter. If Philadelphia was having a worst year, this trade might be more likely right now. However, keep an eye out over the next few years because they may move Timonen to clear cap space (he has a 7 million dollar contract) and bring in other guys who will make more of an impact.
Philadelphia also needs some more centers. Right now, they only have six centers listed on their roster and only two of them are seeing a lot of ice time. The other four aren't producing like they need to be, they've only scored 16 goals between the four of them. The Flyers simply need more options.
Also, Dmitry Kulikov is a talented 19-year-old defender that has a bright future. He would be able to develop with Philadelphia and become a big part of a future team with the other young talent Philadelphia already has.
Again, don't look for this trade to happen now because it won't. It's more likely in the next few years when Timonen starts to age and he won't be able to do as much as he can now.
Trade 4: Keaton Ellerby and a Draft Pick (FLA) for Ray Whitney (CAR)
Right now, the Carolina Hurricanes are looking to trade Ray Whitney. He is 37 years old and will have a limited use in a rebuilding club. However, he does have a no-trade clause, which he invoked to stop a trade to Los Angeles. The reason was because they wouldn't sign him to a three-year contract extension.
Florida needs his ability, and they can give the rebuilding Hurricanes exactly what they're looking for, more prospects. According to the Globe and Mail , the Pittsburgh Penguins are the most likely option for picking up Whitney. However, I would like to see the Panthers get involved as well. He is a strong winger that would be extremely comfortable on the first line.
To me, Florida should invest in a three-year contract extension for Ray Whitney and make him a big part of the team.
Trade 5: Michael Frolik (FLA) for Raffi Torres (CBJ)
This is another situation where Florida and Columbus should trade with each other. Columbus is in need of another center that has scored over ten goals, and they have a ton of wingers, which is exactly what Florida needs.
Really, this is a situation of both teams having a player that the other team needs. The obvious move here would be to make the trade. Especially since these two teams are in different conferences and won't be playing against each other.
If there's one mistake that Panther fans can make, it's thinking that they have nothing to give. In fact, they have a lot to give. You just have to get creative.
There are three things that the Panthers have that they can use. They have a ton of centers, a ton of prospects, and a backup goalie that could be a temporary solution for a team that needs one.
Obviously not all of these are going to happen, in fact I'd be really, really, shocked if even one of them did. In fact, the Florida front office isn't even sure if it will be trading at all. They want to see whether or not the team will be in playoff contention. Unfortunately, it's their own time-wasting that could put the Panthers out of playoff contention.
As always, let me know what you think, if you have a comment, feel free to put it down and let everybody see it. Also, if you have any ideas for trades that you think are possible with the Panthers, I'd love to hear them.
See more of my NHL opinions at Tips for Hockey