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 the Panthers several 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: Cory Stillman
Position: Left Wing
Contract: $3.5mil 2010-2011, pending UFA
Pro-Rated Cap Hit: $778,853
Panthers Tenure: Signed with Panthers as a free agent July 1, 2008.
Cory Stillman's career statistics
*All pro-rated cap hits approximate.
Apart from Bryan McCabe, Stephen Weiss and Tomas Vokoun, probably the most trade deadline discussion around the Panthers has been regarding Cory Stillman. Stillman is a veteran forward who played in his 1000th game this week. He was never the fastest skater and has lost a step with age. Nevertheless, he is a smart hockey player who sees plays develop and has a knack for getting himself into the right places. He makes up for his lack of speed by setting up other players when he gets a breakout then following the play. He can play up front or at the point on the power play and can still play tough minutes.
Stillman was drafted by Calgary in 1992 and played there for a number of years before being traded to St. Louis. The Blues traded him to Tampa Bay in 2003 and he won the Cup with the Lightning that season. He signed with Carolina as a free agent following the lockout and won the Cup again with the Hurricanes. The Canes traded him to Ottawa and he left there when his contract expired to join the Panthers. Like McCabe and Weiss, Stillman is another player who has stated his desire to remain with the Panthers, so even if he is traded, it wouldn't be surprising to see him return for another year.
Who may have interest: Rumors say that the Penguins, Flames and Stars are all interested in Stillman. The Penguins have had scouts in the stands at several recent games. His pro-rated cap hit isn't that high, and all three teams have the cap space to add his salary without moving a roster player.
Why he'll be traded: Stillman is a solid, veteran forward who can provide leadership as well as points. He could definitely provide some offense to the Penguins' depleted forward roster and a veteran presence to a younger team. He's lost a step, but still gets a decent number of scoring chances for the Panthers. There are a number of teams that could use a guy like Stillman in the playoffs, and Tallon has made no secret of his desire to pick up more selections in this summer's draft.
What will the Panthers get back: Draft picks. The Panthers won't be looking for roster players here. They have guys who can be called up from Rochester for the remainder of this season or until Shawn Matthias or Evgeny Dadonov returns from injury.
Why he'll stay: His veteran presence is helping keep the Panthers competitive now. Of all the expiring UFA's, Stillman is the second most important to the Panthers, after McCabe. If they can get a good return for guys like Chris Higgins, Marty Reasoner or Radek Dvorak they're more likely to keep Stillman around.