Florida Panther Trade Rumors: How Far Is Too Far?

Eric LaForgeCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2010

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 13: Goaltender Tomas Vokoun #29 of the Florida Panthers waits for a face off against the Boston Bruins during the second period on February 13, 2010 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 3-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

I'm sure I don't have to tell you about the trade rumors that have been surrounding the Florida Panthers. Most of them are terrible for the team. Some have Tomas Vokoun being traded for players Florida absolutely doesn't need, and most have players that should be untouchable bringing in unreasonable amounts.

The trade rumors surrounding Florida took a shocking turn when Vokoun's name came up. At first, ESPN 1000 alluded to a trade that would involve Vokoun with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, there has been a mixed response from sources about how "true" this deal actually is.

However, there was a blog article from the Sun Sentinel which referenced an interview with Randy Setson. It didn't say anything meaningful about the Vokoun trade, but it did talk about Sexton's four step plan in rebuilding the Florida Panthers. The first step in his plan is the trade deadline.

This rebuilding process isn't supposed to be finished until next season. It's a long term plan for success that the Panthers have needed for awhile. In the short term, Sexton would be providing the shake-up that he promised. But, how much of a "shake-up" is too much of a "shake-up" for the Panthers?

There are a few things that shouldn't happen. First, dealing Vokoun shouldn't even be thought about. He's too good of a goalie that's worth too much to give away. It's very difficult to win without strong goaltending, and Vokoun is one of the strongest. Giving him up will make it very difficult for the team to win in the long term.

Another thing that they have to do, is keep the players that are actually producing. There are very few players that are producing a lot of goals, and those players need to stay.

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I've been saying for a while now that the Panthers need more offensive depth. They simply need more out of the bottom lines. However, that production shouldn't come at the cost of losing their best players. If that's the case, then they're better off not making a trade at all.

It's not like making a trade is the only option for the Panthers. They could sign a few free agents and look for some talent in the draft. The free agent market is probably the best option because the Panthers could easily get two to three players that could score 10-15 goals in a season. That would also make the lower lines more productive because players that used to be on the second and third lines would be on the third and fourth lines, making their opponents easier to handle.

Personally, that's how I think the team should be rebuilt, by acquiring free agents and making good draft decisions. It will keep the good players in Florida and phase the unproductive ones out. More importantly, it would keep one of the best goalies in the NHL in Florida and make this team a real threat for upcoming seasons.

See more of my NHL Opinions at Tips for Hockey