By: Andrew Levine and Sam Schetritt
Might as well start with the positive news! Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, and Spencer Knight would not be in Florida without Dale Tallon.
Performing with an edge not seen before, Last season Ekblad, Barkov, and Huberdeau came into their own.
Barkov had a career season, Huberdeau repeated his success, and if not for a leg injury Ekblad would have been under serious Norris consideration.
In Knight’s case, he went from starting at Boston College in the fall to beginning his Panthers career 5-1 with a playoff win against the Bolts to build off of this offseason.
These four individuals are undoubtedly the franchise’s cornerstones, and will be the ones to lead this team to a Cup.
No team is complete without its coach, and Tallon hired the best in the business. Much like in Chicago, Tallon brought in longtime friend Joel Quenneville to run the show. Quenneville underwhelmed in his first year, with the team stuck in the middle much like years past.
After a few offseason moves, Quenneville’s unparalleled coaching prowess showed.
He led a Panthers group with low expectations to a second place finish in the top heavy central division. His winning pedigree and no nonsense approach to the game is a perfect fit for a team with title aspirations.
February 24th, 2020 began with some depressing news.
As the trade deadline was upon us, Dale Tallon traded Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Established as the 2nd line center at the time, Trocheck a valuable asset, was slated to address the center depth, but ended up being unsuccessful.
What remained was a center core of Barkov, Erik Haula, Dominic Toninato, and Brian Boyle in the playoffs last year.
Of those four, Barkov is the only remaining member on the team.
Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark, the two NHL ready players in the deal, were off the team once the offseason began, though Wallmark had a brief cameo this season.
As for the two prospects, Eetu Luostarinen looks to make an impact on the team this year while Chase Priskie will battle for a roster spot during camp.
P.S. Trocheck was tripped.
For better or worse, Dale Tallon always knew how to attract big names in free agency.
In the case of Anton Stralman, it was definitely for the worse. Stralman had a very solid career leading up to his free agency in 2019.
As a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, he had gained a reputation as a shutdown defenseman who provided consistent offense.
His production began to dip as he turned 33.
For most general managers, those two characteristics act as the equivalent of a giant blinking sign saying “STAY AWAY!!!”
Dale Talon always pays.
He gave the defensemen three guaranteed years at an average annual value of 5.5 million dollars.
At the time, this seemed like an overpay. With two years of retrospect, it was absolutely an overpay.
Known for providing reliable defense in his tenure with Tampa Bay, Stralman never provided it.
He became a liability at times and scratched from the lineup for weeks at a time. Age and injuries caught up to him.
Anyone who paid even a modicum of attention to the league could have seen this as the likely outcome for him.
To get off Stralmans deal, the Panthers gave up a second round pick and a prospect defenseman.
The Vegas expansion draft.
Not only did this trade suck because I found out about it hours after it happened (the perks of spending your summers in Cleveland, Georgia), but because it set the franchise so far back.
For those who don’t know, the Florida Panthers traded Reilly Smith and a 2018 4th Round Pick to the Knights in order for them to take Jonathan Marchessault.
It’s been four years since this trade and I still don’t get it.
Before coming to Florida, Marchessault had 8 career goals. In the one season with the Panthers, he had 30 goals. That type of production is unfathomable for a guy on a contract that had an average annual value of $750,000.
Smith was bound to rebound after a down year, but ultimately Tallon saw more value in protecting Alexander Petrovic and Mark Pysyk (LOL).
Both failed to make an impact on the defensive end as desired, and Pysyk was converted to a forward before being traded last offseason.
As for the Vegas Panthers, both have flourished in the Sin City and have their names all over the Knights record books.
To summarize this move in one word: Pain.
Ah yes, the creme de la creme of Dale Tallon signings. His magnum opus of front office flops. His final act to handicap the Florida Panthers franchise: the Sergei Bobrovsky signing.
To be fair to Tallon, the Panthers desperately needed a goalie, and Bobrovsky was one of the best in the league based on his time in Columbus.
Giving a 30-year-old goaltender $10 million per year over seven (7) years is borderline malpractice.
Having a former Vezina winner on the roster was exciting, the salary and length left a bad taste
Most knew that if Bobrovsky played close to his best form, the contract would be fine for at least a few years.
The main issue about relyin ong goalies as a franchise cornerstone is a fool’s errand.
With the exception of a select few, they cannot be expected to post elite numbers year after year. Sergei Bobrovsky is not one of those exceptions.
Over the past two years, Bob’s high point has been a league average goaltender, and his low point has been much, much worse.
Now, with promising rookie Spencer Knight ready to mend the crease, Bobrovsky’s albatross contract acts as one of the worst handicaps to a team in all of sports.
There is no conceivable way to trade it, (he has a no movement clause) and the structure of the contract makes it even more harmful to buy out.
For the next five years, the Panthers will have to try to compete with 10 million dollars of dead cap on their books.
Nearly a death sentence. Unforgivable.
The Honorable Mentions:
Some of our favorites that didn’t make the cut
- Selecting Lawson Crouse over Jake DeBrusk and Mathew Barzal – This one really hurt
- Dave Bolland’s Contract- The Blackhawks are to blame for this one
- Keith Yandle’s Contract- We were the ones that got SONKed
- Firing Gerard Gallant- Deserved so much better, unfortunate he was left on the side of the road
- Mike Matheson- Words can’t describe the pain I felt when I saw the quote below
“We started with two years and went to four and went to six, and he said, ‘How about eight? I want to be a Panther,'”Dale Tallon
I’ll leave you all with this. In Chicago, the formula was in four stages:
- Hire Tallon
- Hire Quenneville
- Fire Tallon
- Win Cups
We’re currently in Stage four here.
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