UFA Options: Florida Panthers

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UFA Options is a continuing series that gives a brief run-down of the unrestricted free agent market this summer, team-by-team. Our next team for consideration is the Florida Panthers.

These are uncertain times for the Florida Panthers. Their general manager jumped ship to become head coach of the Montreal Canadiens; meaning that the Panthers will have their seventh G.M. in the past nine years. With the exception of Bryan Murray (1994-2000) no G.M. managed to occupy the position for three whole seasons.

It’s unfortunate timing for the Panthers; while Martin may not have been the best G.M. in the business not only is the entry draft coming up but Florida needs to make decisions on eight unrestricted free agents, including franchise cornerstone Jay Bouwmeester, who Martin elected not to trade at the deadline this past spring.

Richard Zednik

A fine two-way player most famous for surviving a horrific incident where his neck was sliced open by a skate, Zednik has seen his offensive game disappear since the lockout. While he still has a decent shot (and 17 goals to show for it this past season) he’s a limited playmaker and it’s anyone’s guess how his game would fare outside of the Southeast division. He hasn’t hit the 50 point mark since before the lockout and at this point is probably not suited to a top-six role on a competitive team.

Radek Dvorak

Much like Zednik, Dvorak is a former 30-goal scorer who hasn’t hit 50 points since the lockout. He had a 37-point season in St. Louis in 2006-07 and managed 36 points this past year, but at this stage in his career offense is not his primary contribution. Dvorak is a relatively cheap utility player; he’s still a fantastic skater and he’s also a very sharp positional player, so he can be used in a defensive role.

Ville Peltonen

Peltonen returned to the NHL after the lockout and has played three rather unheralded seasons with the Panthers. He’s another winger similar to Dvorak and Zednik; sharp positionally with some offensive ability but not quite enough to be a legitimate top-six option. He’s a rather streaky offensive player, going both hot and cold for long stretches of the season, but he isn’t a liability when he’s not scoring. A good, cheap option for some team’s lower line; particularly since he can move up the depth chart from time to time.

Jay Bouwmeester

There are a lot of people out there who don’t understand how difficult it is to start in the defensive zone. Here’s a look at the Panthers’ blue-line, ranked by the difference in total defensive zone faceoffs vs. offensive zone faceoffs. A positive number indicates more time in the defensive zone:

Bouwmeester: +180
Skrastins: +134
Cullimore: +56
Ballard: +33
McCabe: +13
Eminger: +4
Boynton: -4

Obviously, the Panthers started in their own zone a lot – not an uncommon occurrence among lousy teams. By way of contrast, the only Oilers’ players with numbers even close were Shawn Horcoff (+156) and Kyle Brodziak (+149) and the Oilers top-ranked defenseman in this category was Steve Staios (+29).

Bouwmeester is a complete player and a franchise talent; he doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for his tremendous defensive game and his offensive game isn’t half-bad either. He’s a great skater and a top passer, and if the workload were distributed a little more evenly he could see a rise in his offensive totals.

Nick Boynton

Given how sheltered Boynton was, he had an OK but not great season for the Panthers, and there were off-ice issues; in February he was suspended for three games by the team for “disciplinary reasons”. Supposedly this was the result of a run-in over ice-time with Panthers’ head coach Peter DeBoer. He’s a physical player who is prone to occasional undisciplined penalties, and his skating leaves something to be desired. Working in Boynton’s favour is that he is big, tough and has some offensive ability.

Karlis Skrastins

Jay Bouwmeester’s regular defense partner, Karlis Skrastins will never wow the world with his offensive ability, but he’s one of the better stay-at-home blueliners in the NHL. He finished 9th in the league with 171 blocked shots (the Oilers’ top player in this category was Steve Staios with 157) and while he isn’t a big hitter he’s as sharp in his own end as just about any player in the game. He would be a very good fit on a team looking for a defensive presence in their top-four.

Jassen Cullimore

The 2008 Norris Trophy candidate is a serviceable depth defenseman who has never used his imposing frame (6’5”, 220lbs) as effectively as he could. He bounced around for a bit before finding a home in Florida and the 36-year old may be near the end of the line at this point. Then again, there’s no reason why he couldn’t be considered for a #5-#7 role given his performance over the last two seasons.

Craig Anderson

Anderson has been one of the best backup goaltenders in the NHL since coming to Florida in 2006-07, and this year he finally managed to get into a significant number of games (31) and posted a comparable save percentage (.924) to his partner, one of the league’s best goaltenders (Tomas Vokoun, .926). It would be a bit of a risk to just hand over a starting job to him, but he would be a fine choice at this point to be a 1A goaltender in a tandem situation, and he might take over the starting role entirely.

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    Ogden Brother wrote:
    I like the idea, not sure Van/Oil would make a trade of that magnitude though.
    Tambellini may be the man to change all that.

    I don't know if it's GM dependant as much as it is rivalry dependant. Can't see us making an impact trade with Calgary either, regardless of who's making the calls.

  • Hippy

    Boris wrote:

    I am not sure why we would spend the required money on Bow, we have a pretty good D right now and if we move Gilbert for a top 6 forward then we bring up Peckham. Maybe if we didn’t have a 5.5 million dollar cap hit second line center…..

    That's pretty good for a day at Oilersnation – 28th comment before hitting the non-sequitor Horcoff slam.

    Dumkopf

  • Hippy

    @ Curious:

    I agree with you regarding J-Bow. He's just going to be too exensive for a cap cuffed Oiler team that already has more holes than colander.

    As for Schneider… Gillis would be crazy to move him. He's going to be real good.

  • Hippy

    Oh man it's a slow day here so I cruised over to the Oilfans speculation site… and I'm remembering why I quit going there in the first place:

    Jakey- To Dallas: Nilsson (add Schremp if need be) and the 10th pick. To Edmonton: the eighth overall pick.

    *I read this rolling my eyes…chuckling a little inside…expecting to read others explain to Jakey why it takes more than a 2 million dollar 9 goal scoring bust and an marginal AHL player to move UP in the draft*

    But amazingly this is a sampling of the responses:

    LumberingD- Couldn't we get more for either of those players than a two spot move?

    Oilermeister- I don't think it's worth wasting Nilsson and Schremp to move up two spots….I think it's really splitting hairs at eight to ten in any draft… blah blah blah.

    Of course then Bigred75 says we should bundle up our tenth and Cogliano for one of Tavarres, Hedman, or Duschene.

    AAAAUUGHHHH. How do you even begin to reason with that kind of stupidity. Hey Austin; Have I ever found a site for you!

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    Oh man it’s a slow day here so I cruised over to the Oilfans speculation site… and I’m remembering why I quit going there in the first place:
    Jakey- To Dallas: Nilsson (add Schremp if need be) and the 10th pick. To Edmonton: the eighth overall pick.
    *I read this rolling my eyes…chuckling a little inside…expecting to read others explain to Jakey why it takes more than a 2 million dollar 9 goal scoring bust and an marginal AHL player to move UP in the draft*
    But amazingly this is a sampling of the responses:
    LumberingD- Couldn’t we get more for either of those players than a two spot move?
    Oilermeister- I don’t think it’s worth wasting Nilsson and Schremp to move up two spots….I think it’s really splitting hairs at eight to ten in any draft… blah blah blah.
    Of course then Bigred75 says we should bundle up our tenth and Cogliano for one of Tavarres, Hedman, or Duschene.
    AAAAUUGHHHH. How do you even begin to reason with that kind of stupidity. Hey Austin; Have I ever found a site for you!

    I thought Chris was your alter ego?

  • Hippy

    Ogden Brother wrote:

    Chris wrote:
    Oh man it’s a slow day here so I cruised over to the Oilfans speculation site… and I’m remembering why I quit going there in the first place:
    Jakey- To Dallas: Nilsson (add Schremp if need be) and the 10th pick. To Edmonton: the eighth overall pick.
    *I read this rolling my eyes…chuckling a little inside…expecting to read others explain to Jakey why it takes more than a 2 million dollar 9 goal scoring bust and an marginal AHL player to move UP in the draft*
    But amazingly this is a sampling of the responses:
    LumberingD- Couldn’t we get more for either of those players than a two spot move?
    Oilermeister- I don’t think it’s worth wasting Nilsson and Schremp to move up two spots….I think it’s really splitting hairs at eight to ten in any draft… blah blah blah.
    Of course then Bigred75 says we should bundle up our tenth and Cogliano for one of Tavarres, Hedman, or Duschene.
    AAAAUUGHHHH. How do you even begin to reason with that kind of stupidity. Hey Austin; Have I ever found a site for you!
    I thought Chris was your alter ego?

    Oops, meant Austin.

  • Hippy

    @ Ogden Brother:

    Oh and… I'm pretty sure you are joking… but if anyone else reads this I'd like to be pretty clear about one thing: I'm not Austin… and have never agreed with anything he ever said.

  • Hippy

    ok well i dont really like the souray talk he said he didnt talk about a trade i dont think we would trade him or viny.. Person i want traded Nilson and Penner.
    would be a nice fit to ger devorac back He is a good player him and Hemsky play good together. Souray would be to big of a loss same for vinny. Staios i could see might be going.

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    @ Ogden Brother:
    Looks like it’s just the two of us… say something stupid so I can vehemently disagree with you.

    Horcoff is a 7 million 2nd line center?

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    @ Ogden Brother:
    Oh and… I’m pretty sure you are joking… but if anyone else reads this I’d like to be pretty clear about one thing: I’m not Austin… and have never agreed with anything he ever said.

    Haha, one day you both had identical posts under each of your handles at the same time 😉

  • Hippy

    Curious wrote:

    You just cant sign the best free agent available this year (Boumeister) and then trade him for a forward. Boumeister is a great defenceman but he is not coming here. He doesnt fit the cap space, he doesnt fit what you need now. He will stay in the east.
    Last year the defence missed the shut down, physical player. Skrastins is the guy we should be considering here. He would pair up nicely in our top 4 and probably would be quite affordable.

    lol, i spoke in error. i meant to trade for his rights, and if they can sign him ( and want to keep him ) they can do that. OR they can use his rights to help sweeten a trade for the forward.

    but your point that he isnt coming here is kind of what i meant. IF they can sign him and keep him, great. if not, they can still trade those rights.

    Cam wrote:

    You don’t sign free agents and then flip them straight away. That’s ethically poor behaviour and would ensure that no more free agents sign here.

    trading a guy then trading him again happens all the time. if they were able to sign him via free agency (no trade involved) i would agree, thats just a dick move.
    but again, i spoke in error. i meant trade his rights if you cant sign him.

  • Hippy

    Random question, since we seem to be at the random stage of the comments section 😉

    Do you guys prefer the changes I've made to the UFA posts? Before I was including a ton of statistical stuff; now I just look at it, the scouting reports and toss everything together. Do you like it better with more numbers or the current, looser, format?

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Random question, since we seem to be at the random stage of the comments section
    Do you guys prefer the changes I’ve made to the UFA posts? Before I was including a ton of statistical stuff; now I just look at it, the scouting reports and toss everything together. Do you like it better with more numbers or the current, looser, format?

    *Pounds table with fork*

    Numbers numbers numbers

  • Hippy

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    I prefer this format, I think the scouting report style is more familiar to people and if someone wants more detailed information they can either ask you or look it up themselves.

    Great series, btw I've enjoyed the rundown so far. If J-Bo comes to Edmonton I will anoint Tambo as a managerial god, unfortunately I can't see it happening. Is Skrastins really that good or was he just riding J-Bo to advanced statistical glory (I'm assuming his box cars are not great).

  • Hippy

    I would trade for Bouwmeester's rights for one of the younger guys on the team. I'd probably trade Chorney or Petry to Florida for his rights and try my best to sign him.

    Then I'd have to look into trading on of Visnovsky or Souray for a top 6 forward and get rid of all the deadweight in the lineup. I wouldn't mind seeing an Oiler lineup that did not include MA Pouliot, Robert Nilsson, Dustin Penner or Ryan Potulny. That group of forwards would give a pretty decent return; say Pouliot to the Penguins and reunite the Crosby-Pouliot duo. Potulny for a 4th rounder and use that pick to draft a project goaltender (5-6 years of development). Trade Nilsson for a pick. Trade the pick you receive in that trade and a 2nd rounder for Josh Harding.

    I would personally like to flip Penner for Malone or Hartnell… but that just won't happen. Don't know what to do with him.

    OPTIONS FOR SOURAY & VIS

    Souray and Visnovsky would probably yield a second line forward pretty easy.

    Buffalo could probably use a stud on the blueline since Jaro Spacek (UFA) is their #1 scoring defenseman at the moment. Problem is they're already at $46 million with a lot of RFA's & UFA's to sign. The Oilers would have to take a bad contract right back. Here's something that may work:

    To Edmonton:
    Drew Stafford (RFA – Probably around $4 million/ year), Paul Gaustad ($2.5 million)

    To Buffalo:
    Lubomir Visnovsky ($5.6 million) or Sheldon Souray ($5.4 million)

    Post trade:

    Stafford Horcoff Hemsky
    O'Sullivan Gagner Cogliano
    Moreau Gaustad Pisani
    Stortini Brodziak Brule

    Bouwmeester Gilbert
    Grebeshkov Souray/Visnovsky
    Smid Peckham/Strudwick

    Harding
    Drouin-Deslaurier

    That's a pretty good start. The lineup still needs some size but the addition of Gaustad adds grit to the checking line. Stafford plays a power game that a little reminiscent of Ryan Smyth so he should develop some chemistry with

  • Hippy

    @ smytty777:

    Skrastins has a very good track record in the shutdown role (you might remember him from Colorado or Nashville) but he's never been a point producer.

  • Hippy

    Corbs wrote:

    Gaustad and Stafford
    for souray or vish…
    your f’n crazy meng!!!…

    Stafford is a top 10 pick and Gaustad is a 6'5 240lbs solid checking line center. One of the biggest needs we have is a shutdown centerman to help out Horcoff with the PK and Gaustad is that guy. Stafford is a future 25-30 goal top 6 forward (What Smyth was to us) that plays a gritty game. He is skilled and he won't come cheap. He also adds size to the top 6. Stafford is 6'3 220+lbs.

    We add two cokemachines for a guy we got for free (Souray via FA) or a guy we paid a boatload for but need to unload to keep the other guy and sign an allstar defenseman.

    It's not as bad of a trade as it first looks… at least to me.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Do you like it better with more numbers or the current, looser, format?

    I wont complain either way, but some of the more pertinent numbers would be kool.

    I like Bouwmeester's game, but the only way I see the Oil making a serious play for him is if Souray or Vis is moved first. Just because of the money Jay will likely demand. I dont know if he would really want to come play here though.