Panthers GM: 'We're going to be aggressive this summer'
Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon wasn't shy when discussing his team's offseason plans on Monday.
"We’ve been very close to being a good team for a long time," the veteran executive told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun. "It’s just a matter of adding the right pieces this summer. The great thing is our owner Vinnie Viola is committed to being a cap team. He wants to win. He wants us to do what we have to do. It’s a really good situation.
"We’re going to be aggressive this summer."
After February's trade that sent Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to Pittsburgh, the Panthers project to enter the offseason with roughly $21 million in cap space, and very few of their own players requiring new deals.
The 2019 free-agent class could be one of the better ones in recent memory. Here's a look at the top pending unrestricted free agents:
|Matt Duchene||Erik Karlsson||Sergei Bobrovsky|
|Artemi Panarin||Jake Gardiner||Robin Lehner|
|Joe Pavelski||Tyler Myers||Semyon Varlamov|
|Jeff Skinner||Alex Edler||Curtis McElhinney|
|Kevin Hayes||Anton Stralman||Petr Mrazek|
|Gustav Nyquist||Jay Bouwmeester|
In February, LeBrun reported that Florida hopes to take a run at Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin.
Being aggressive this summer could also mean more trades, and the potential for a shake-up has at least one player on edge.
"It’s a little nerve-racking," forward Vincent Trocheck said. "A lot of these guys I’ve literally spent my entire career with. We’ve created some great friendships. I couldn’t say a bad word about a single guy in this room. It’s always tough when you see guys go. We had a couple of guys traded earlier the year, I spent my entire career with Bjugstad... But that’s the business side of it and you do what you have to do to become a winning team."
Led by a potent top-six forward group, the Panthers rank eighth in goals for this season, but 29th in goals against.
Trocheck believes a change is necessary.
"I think we need to kind of change our culture," he said. "It seems like every year we look at our personnel and we think, ‘This is a team that should definitely be able to compete in the playoffs.’ And I 100 percent agree. We have all the right personnel to be a great team, to compete in the playoffs. It’s just we need to create a winning identity, a winning culture a little bit more in this locker room.
"It seems like sometimes we kind of feel sorry for ourselves and don’t really do much about it. I think that’s something that’s on me, on (Aleksander Barkov), on (Jonathan Huberdeau), other guys, to create in here."
The Panthers sit 10 points out of a playoff spot with just six games remaining.