The Panthers hope to take a run at Columbus Blue Jackets stars Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun. Inquiring about the two pending unrestricted free agents before the Feb. 25 trade deadline or waiting until July 1 when free agency begins are both options, LeBrun adds.
Tallon hinted that the latter was more of a possibility.
"We've freed up a lot of space for an aggressive summer in free agency," according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.
Friday's deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly puts the Panthers in a better position to do so.
|Panthers receive||Penguins receive|
|Derick Brassard ($3M)||Nick Bjugstad ($4.1M)|
|Riley Sheahan ($2.1M)||Jared McCann ($1.25M)|
The Panthers now have six picks in the first four rounds of the 2019 draft after Friday's deal. The club only saved $250,000 in cap space this year, but it's possible they could flip pending unrestricted free agents Brassard and Sheahan before the deadline, which would give them more cap space and more draft picks to use as bait in future trades.
The Panthers only have $3.1 million in projected cap space this year, according to Cap Friendly. By dealing Brassard and Sheahan, though, they could theoretically afford either Panarin ($6 million) or Bobrovsky ($7.425 million) for the rest of this season.
When asked if dealing Brassard and Sheahan was a possibility, Tallon said "performance will determine what we do with these players," per Johnston. The Panthers currently sit 11 points out of a playoff spot, and the team could run the risk of losing them both for nothing come July 1.
If a deal isn't consummated, the Panthers project to have $21 million in cap space this summer with just a handful of restricted free agents to retain. This is $5.35 million more than they would've had given Bjugstad and McCann were signed beyond this season.
Panarin would help round out a potent top-six forward group which already features Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau, Evgenii Dadonov, and Mike Hoffman. The 27-year-old leads the Blue Jackets with 57 points in 48 games. Several contenders have already reached out regarding his availability.
Bobrovksy has had an uncharacteristically poor season and currently owns a .901 save percentage and 3.01 goals-against average - both well off his career marks. Yet, he would certainly provide an upgrade to a squad that ranks dead-last in the NHL in save percentage. However, goaltenders Roberto Luongo ($4.53 million through 2021-22) and James Reimer ($3.4 million through 2020-21) remain under contract, so one would have to be moved before Bobrovsky could come aboard.