The Panthers are in a unusual position. They have not made the playoffs since 2000. Dale Tallon and assistant GM Mike Santos have done a great job rebuilding this team. As a result about this they now rank 20th in attendance which should shut down any chance at relocation.
The Panthers are obviously buyers at the deadline. They have been propelled by the great additions of Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Brian Campbell, and Jose Theodore. As there roster sits right now they have a tremendous amount of depth but not much frontline talent. They are also ravaged by injuries but have the #1 farm system in the game with the likes of Nick Bjustad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Quinton Howden, Jacob Markstrom, and Luke Shaw.
With looking at there roster and current position you will have to speculate they will make some moves as Tallon has done all season but no blockbusters. They have already added Jared Smithson for a 6th round pick. He should provide for a gritty 4th line center. With the limited number of sellers the prices are sure to be sky high as seen by the Carter and Zidlichky trades.
Who will be available and have a chance to land with the Panthers
Rick Nash – this one will be doubtful but will provide a big public relations boost for the club. He would require a lot of talent that I don’t think Tallon would be willing to give.
Kristian Huselius - he would require a lower level prospect or a mid draft pick. He is a UFA at years end and is therefore useless to Columbus. He would be a great fit.
Mike Ribiero – when there are frontline centers available you will see a ton of interest. He would give the team the secondary scoring it needs.
Derek Roy – He is having by his standards a terrible season. When you combine that with all the money that Buffalo has tied up he could be traded. Although he is a smaller center he would give a big boost to the scoring.
Dustin Brown – with a very team friendly 3.2 million dollar cap hit and a leadership mentality he looks like a great buy. The big question is what would Kings GM Lombardi want for him.
Andrei Kostitsyn – there have been rumblings of his discontent in Montreal but there have been reports that he wants to stay. He is a UFA at seasons end and could easily end up with his brother in Nashville next year. For half a season at a likely 2nd and 5th round cost he would provide more offense to a team that needs it.
Other trade candidates to the panthers include Bobby Ryan, Robyn Regehr, Paul Stastny, Fedor Tyutin, Trevor Daley, Steve Ott, Cam Barker, Sam Gagner, Johnny Oduya, Keith Ballard, Mason Raymond, Chris Stewart, Mikail Grobavski, Ray Whitney, Sergie Gonchar, and P.A Parenteau.
Panthers Trade chips
Prospects- Erik Gudbranson and Jonathan Huberdeau would all only be included in blockbusters.
Quinton Howden, Nick Bjustad, and Luke Shaw would require a major deal.
Rocco Grimaldi, Colby Robak, and Alec Petrovich as well as others would be involved in above average sized deals.
Dmitri Kulikov – he is 22 and very valuable. He is coming off knee surgery but could be a trade chip involved in a major deal.
Jason Garrison – he has been one of the biggest surprises not just for the Panthers but in the league. He has 13 goals which is the most for a d-man in the league. He is looking at somewhere in the 4.5 million dollar range which I don’t know is what Tallon is thinking.
Mike Santorelli- with the season he is having along with the Panthers depth at center he could be a trade deadline casualty.
The Panthers are in good position to make a move. The chances of a big deal are slim but could happen. There best addition will be the people coming back from injury including Scottie Upshall, Jason Garrison, Dmitri Kulikov, Matt Bradley, Marco Sturm, and Ed Jovanovski. They are in good playoff position right now and will probably win the southeast. Down the road with the cap space they have as well as the farm system they will only get better.