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 only days until the NHL 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: Tomas Vokoun
Contract: $6.3mil, pending UFA, no-trade clause
Pro-Rated Cap Hit: $1.25mil
Panthers Tenure: Traded from Nashville, Summer 2007.
Tomas Vokoun's career statistics
*All pro-rated cap hits approximate.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been heavily rumored to be on his way out of town. The 34 year old Czech netminder has consistently put up excellent numbers playing for Panthers teams who can't score goals and could be incredibly valuable to a playoff team with goaltending problems or questions. He has a no-trade clause, but is expected to waive it if asked. Though the Panthers have said they're not negotiating with any of their pending unrestricted free agents, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun has said that contract discussions earlier in the season didn't go well and he is now being actively shopped.
Vokoun has been criticized by Panthers fans and the media for letting in soft goals and it true that he has cold streaks where he doesn't play well and is unfocused. At the same time, he gets on hot streaks where it seems like he can stop any puck that comes near him and that is why playoff teams will take a serious look at him.
Who may have interest: Vokoun has been linked to the Flyers, Sharks and Avalanche in rumors. Detroit may also have an interest, having lost out on Evgeni Nabokov. They would have to move Chris Osgood to make the cap space needed for Vokoun.
Why he'll be traded: Vokoun is potentially too valuable at the deadline for Tallon to not be actively shopping him to interested teams. Vokoun has a no-trade clause and has stated he wants to stay in Florida, but would likely waive it to go to a contender. Backup Scott Clemmensen has shown he can go the distance and was likely signed out of New Jersey for this very reason. It is unlikely that the Panthers will make the playoffs this season, making Vokoun expendable for this year. The Panthers have a good young group of goalies coming up through the system, and at least one of them is quite likely to be NHL starter caliber within the next couple of seasons. Clemmensen is signed for one more year and the team could trade Vokoun expecting that Clemmensen will start next year.
What will the Panthers get back: Some combination of early round picks, prospects and maybe a roster player. A really cap strapped team in need of goaltending might be willing to give up a roster player to make the space for Vokoun, especially if they have forward depth.
Why he'll stay: His is a large cap hit for teams right at the cap. The Panthers' young goalies (Jacob Markstrom, Tyler Plante) aren't quite ready to take over yet and Vokoun could be a key link between the current team and the new, Tallon-built model.