If the Florida Panthers end up making a move prior to the upcoming 2018 NHL Trade Deadline, don’t expect them to acquire a rental player.
“Any move that we make will be for the long-term benefit of our franchise,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon told Sportsnet 650 The Fan Tuesday. “We’re not going to be doing anything that’s a kneejerk reaction just because it’s the trade deadline.”
The Panthers were seven points out of a wild card spot heading into Tuesday’s action and held at least two games in hand on the five teams directly ahead of them in the standings. While qualifying for the post-season is still a realistic goal, Tallon isn’t going to stray from the organization’s plan to build a team that can be competitive for years to come.
“It’s important for us to focus on guys that will fit long term with us and be a part of our young core so any move that we make in the next few weeks, if we do at all, will be looking forward to what they can bring to the table as far as leadership, as far as character and as far as how long they’ll be with the organization,” Tallon said.
The Panthers have five forwards (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Colton Sceviour), three blueliners (Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Michael Matheson) and two goalies (Roberto Luongo, James Reimer) locked up through at least the 2020-21 campaign. However, the team did lose their 2016-17 goal leader Jonathan Audy-Marchessault to Vegas in the expansion draft and also traded Reilly Smith to the Golden Knights. The team also received negative press for the way in which head coach Gerard Gallant was fired late in 2016.
“The No. 1 priority for us is stability and to build up our core,” Tallon added. “We had a lot of flux last year. We changed up a lot of people in the organization on and off the ice and it turned out to be a negative for us.
“What we’re trying to do is stay positive, stay focused, send the right message to our young players and to our fans that we’re committed to this core group of young players, that we have a lot of great assets coming in our system. Our future’s very bright.”