The Florida Panthers have fallen flat once again, in their quest to stop their streak of futility. If the Panthers fail to reach the playoffs this season they will have gone a decade without a playoff berth. At the olympic break the Panthers find themselves six points out of the final playoff spot, and it does not seem like things will change any time soon.
Florida Panthers' owners Stu Siegel and Cliff Viner have sent out letters to Florida season ticket holders basically stating that this season is over, and they plan a major overhaul of the roster. Many around the league were surprised by this letter, but what was even more suprising to me was a phone call I had with Michael Yormack, president of the Florida Panthers.
I asked him what was next for the Panthers and he revealed that they would be purging themselves of all their one year contracts, and underachieving veterans. What was even more suprising was the fact he gave the names of the players they plan to move. He mentioned that captain Bryan McCabe was not earning his money, and veteran winger Cory Stillman cannot skate anymore.
I would imagine these two will be given the boot at the March 3rd trade deadline. The Panthers most likely will also rid themselves of defensemen Jordan Leopold and Denis Seidenberg, the plan is to trade these moveable pieces for draft picks, and build through drafting and free agency.
Yormack also went on to say Panthers' fans may be surprised by the names that are moved, this may mean the end for underachiever Nathan Horton, or even forwards David Booth and Stephen Weiss.
The most valuable player to the Panthers' rebuilding process may in fact be goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun is having a career year, and will never have higher value than he has this season. Florida could fetch a major package in return for Vokoun. I'm hearing lots of interest from the likes of Philadelphia, Chicago and even Washington.
Florida would gain lots of key assets if they were to trade Vokoun, possibly Patrick Sharp from Chicago, or maybe Daniel Briere and Scott Hartnell from Philadelphia, but regardless of who they acquire trading Vokoun would open up a massive amount of cap space for the Panthers, which would open up the potential for big free agent signings for the Cats , only time will tell however.
The important thing for Panthers' fans to remember is that the owners realize this roster is not NHL caliber, and unlinke past Panthers' owners they plan to do something about it.