New General Manager Dale Tallon is ready to remake this team in his image. He has challenged the players to prove they should be a part of his plan. Even before Tallon was hired, ownership warned the fans that big changes were in store and asked that judgement be reserved until the process is complete. They have essentially let it be known that no one is untouchable anymore and all players are potentially available to interested teams. Assistant GM Mike Santos has additionally stated that no contract negotiations will take place with the team's pending unrestricted free agents before the end of the season. With thePanthersseveral points out of a playoff spot with less than a month to the trade deadline, the time has come for Tallon to make changes. Over the next couple of weeks, LBC will be profiling some of the more prominent members of the Panthers roster.
Player: Bryan McCabe
Contract: $4.15mil, UFA
Pro-Rated Cap Hit: $1.7mil*
Panthers Tenure: 2008-Present (Traded from Toronto Maple Leafs for Mike Van Ryn and a fourth-round pick)
Bryan McCabe's career statistics
*All pro-rated cap hits approximate.
Everyone is available. Some are just less available than others. Team captain Bryan McCabe was hurt a couple of weeks ago in a game against the New Jersey Devils. His jaw was broken and he skated to the locker room, had the trainer put him in a cage and headed back to the bench, missing only one shift. He recently resumed skating, but still has his jaw wired and won't be able to take contact for a couple more weeks. There's a chance he can make it into a game right before the deadline, or right after. This won't necessarily be an impediment to his being traded. Todd Bertuzzi was traded at the deadline, which was still a few games before he was cleared to play. If it's a team that wants him for the playoffs, they might be willing to take him if he's almost ready to play at the deadline.
McCabe was traded to Florida just before the start of the 2008-2009 season. He was a popular fan scapegoat in Toronto for all that ailed the Maple Leafs and his departure was rumored all throughout summer 2008. The day after a $2 million dollar bonus owed to him by the Leads was paid, he waived his no-movement clause to be traded to the Panthers. He was named as the replacement for former captain Olli Jokinen just prior to the 2009-2010 season. The 2008-2009 season was played with no captain.
Who may have interest: Rumors have surfaced that Anaheim, Dallas and Montreal have interest, as well as San Jose, who allegedly consider McCabe a backup plan if they can't get Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Anaheim seems an unlikely destination as they just landed Francois Beauchemin. Montreal could use someone to replace Andrei Markov, who is out for the season. Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin originally made the trade for McCabe when he was the Panthers' GM. The New York Rangers have also been mentioned in several places as a possible destination. All but the Sharks have the cap space.
Why he'll be traded: McCabe is a solid, offensive defenseman with leadership qualities. He has occasional lapses in the defensive zone and is infamous for scoring on his own net on more than one occasion, but is excellent on the power play and in the offensive zone five-on-five. He's missed more than a few games this season because of a broken jaw, but is a warrior. It looks like he'll be back less than five weeks from his injury. When his jaw was broken, he was playing with a broken finger.
What will the Panthers get back: As a pending unrestricted free agent, the Panthers will likely be looking draft picks in any deal. Tallon is looking for quantity as well as quality, so depending on the team, he may be looking for a first or for a second and a later round.
Why he'll stay: McCabe is one of few players on the team with a no-trade clause, one which he waived to come here. He recently told members of the media that he wants to stay and "end [his] career in Florida." This will likely enter into Tallon's decision. McCabe is the captain of this team and maybe a more effective one than people thought. It might make more sense to Dale Tallon to keep him for a couple more years for that reason than to trade him. It also, of course, depends on McCabe and if he's willing to stay here and take a pay cut. He's probably going to have to take a pay cut next year no matter where he goes, so that may not be an issue. Whatever gripes Maple Leafs or Panthers fans have about his occasional defensive lapses or propensity to score into his own net from time to time, I don't think anyone can question his character and his commitment. And in Dale Tallon's world, that's as important as his skill. On top of that, he's a good influence on the younger defensemen. While it may turn out that Keaton Ellerby and Dmitry Kulikov have found a natural connection and that Ellerby will be a better defense partner for Kulikov in the future, we saw both Kulikov and Jason Garrison become steady, more confident players playing on a pairing with McCabe and that presence will be important when building around a group of younger players. But, Tallon's move will balance the return on a possible trade with the effect of trading the team's captain. The rest is just contract negotiation.