The Florida Panthers are struggling offensively, and coach Peter DeBoer claimed they are in need of a center. This statement has increased the chance of a Jay Bouwmeester trade. Many teams are desperately in need of a puck-moving defenseman, so a Bouwmeester trade should be able to get the Panthers valuable offensive help.
Many teams seem interested, but the front-runners seem to be the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators, and the newest contestant the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The rumored package the Rangers were offering was Brandon Dubinsky and Petr Prucha. The Rangers are struggling to find an offensive defenseman to help out Wade Redden, but Dubinsky along with Nikolai Zherdev and Nigel Dawes seem to be New York's future, so this trade seems highly unlikely.
The first team that had substantial interest in the young defenseman was the Philadelphia Flyers. There have been rumored packages tossed around, but the most talked about rumor was Flyers' center Jeff Carter, and a pick for Bouwmeester. But with the year Carter is having, that rumor has been silenced, and the Flyers have offered players like Joffrey Lupul and Randy Jones.
Although these players are solid, they do not provide the Panthers with the offensive firepower they need, so this trade most likely will not happen as well.
A team that seems more likely to acquire Bouwmeester may be the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa has gotten little, to no production from their blue-line. Rumors say that the Senators have offered Antoine Vermette, Cristoph Schubert, and their first round draft pick for Bouwmeester. Rumors, however have also claimed the Senators also want Stephen Weiss in return.
If this trade sent Bouwmeester to Ottawa, this would be the best package on the table for the Panthers. The trade helps both teams immensely, and helps each team's weaknesses. In my opinion, Ottawa seems to be the most likely to acquire Bouwmeester at the moment.
The most recent interest has come from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs recently just traded Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. Many claim this was a move to try and free up space for Mats Sundin, and a Bouwmeester rental. The Leafs have many pricey players they are looking to get rid of, such as Nik Antropov, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Jason Blake.
Florida would greatly benefit if they could acquire any of these three players for Bouwmeester. Panthers' General Manager Jacques Martin has not hesitated to deal with Toronto in the past, and Ottawa is a place he knows quite well, so I see Bouwmeester either going to the Maple Leafs or the Senators.
Whatever happens there will be loads of pressure on Martin to get equal offensive value back, especially after the lack of offensive return in the Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen trades.