Goes without saying the league-wide excitement quotient ended on a considerably lower note once the afternoon wrapped than in previous years.
The Panthers did indeed make a couple of moves, one which garnered its fair share of attention, and another that fell on understandably deaf ears.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg - long speculated to be a prime target for clubs seeking blueline depth - and Ohio State's Matt Bartkowski (7th round, 2008) were shipped to the Boston Bruins in exchange for winger Byron Bitz, veteran AHL forward Craig Weller, and a 2010 second round pick (from Tampa Bay).
The loss of Seidenberg, who has family in the South Florida area, was forseen early in the day when defenseman Keaton Ellerby was recalled from Rochester, and could potentially be re-signed by the organization this summer. He has proven to be a popular and effective member of the club in his short time with the Panthers, and should be a valuable addition to a Boston club clinging to playoff hopes.
Bitz should step immediately into the Florida forward lineup, reportedly wearing #12 (finally!). Weller presumably is off to the Amerks.
The Panthers have now gained two 2nd-round draft picks (one from the Jordan Leopold deal) for this year's draft in the past three days.
The Cats then went into stealth-mode on a second transaction, this time with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who apparently couldn't find a player on their roster not named Nash who was worthy of holding onto.
2007 4th round pick Matt Rust (currently with the Michigan Wolverines) was dealt to the Jackets for part-time NHLer - and pending UFA - Mathieu Roy. This one can't be more than a temporary "filler" acquisition for Rochester.
GM Randy Sexton on today's moves, via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
"I like a lot of our team. I’m not happy with where we are and I’m not happy with some of our players, but this is not, ‘Let’s load them up with dynamite and blow everything up. We’ve got some good players here. We’ve got guys that are bonafide, legit NHL players. This is about improving what we have on top of that foundation. I could have traded some of our great core players if I wanted to, but that would be foolhardy."
There is more from Sexton, by the way, so keeping it all in context is mighty important.
From where I sit, this was a semi-successful day, from the angle of the Panthers getting some decent assets for a departing unrestricted free agent. Lots more could have been done, of course, but as the GM stated, anything less than full value for Florida's current crop of players - love them or hate them - is simply not acceptable. Today's result only ups the ante on Panthers management to perform in a big way at the draft in June.