Sometimes a favorite player is traded because of a locker room problem or a difference of opinion with a coach or GM. Sometimes they demand a trade and sometimes the team just goes in a different direction. There's always a contingent of fans who hold on to those players who got away and hope they will come back. While Dale Tallon is working on his own reunions by adding some Chicago Blackhawks to the Cats, there are a number of former Panthers available in this year's UFA market. And if today's Steve Montador signing has taught us anything, it's that A) Dale Tallon is not the only GM in Chicago willing to overpay defensemen and B) not all former Panthers have the career arc of Kamil Kreps.
A select list of available former Cats, and poll, after the jump...
Rob Niedermayer, Florida's first ever draft pick, only had 19 points last season, but was very good in the playoffs for the Sabres. Niedermayer is definitely on the downside of his career arc, but won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 and could be a good veteran presence for the team.
After being picked in first overall by the Panthers in 1994, Jovocop played for just over three seasons before being traded to Vancouver. He's played in Phoenix the last few years. And while he's been hurt and missed games the last two seasons and had his lowest scoring season ever last year, he still logged 20 minutes a night on a playoff team.
Dvorak, Florida's first round pick in 1995, has already had a second stint with the Panthers, one that ended when Tallon traded him to Atlanta at the trade deadline. Dvorak had 1 point in 13 games for the Thrashers before being injured. A return to the Panthers is unlikely. He recently had some choice words about the atmosphere surrounding this year's team and said he wants one more crack at a Cup, something unlikely to happen soon enough in South Florida.
Glass, a ninth round Florida pick in 2003, only played parts of two seasons for the Panthers before he left to sign with Vancouver. He's been a decent energy line player for the Canucks the last two years.
Salei played most of two post-lockout seasons before GM Jacques Martin traded him to the Avalanche for Karlis Skrastins. Salei had a 10 point season for the Red Wings this season after missing most of the previous season.
Skrastins was traded to the Panthers in 2008 for Ruslan Salei. He played the following season on a pairing with Jay Bouwmeester before Randy Sexton lowballed him on a contract offer and he left for Dallas. Skrastins was a solid stay at home defenseman and a shot blocking machine for the Panthers.
Following two disappointing seasons that saw him play for three different teams, Dale Tallon gave Higgins a one-year contract. Higgins started slow, but seemed to get his scoring touch back mid-season before being injured. He was traded to Vancouver while still injured and had 4 goals in the playoffs, including 2 game winners.
Which former Panther and impeding free agent would you like to see return to the Panthers?
Ed Jovanovski (63 votes)
Rob Niedermayer (5 votes)
Radek Dvorak (13 votes)
Tanner Glass (4 votes)
Ruslan Salei (1 vote)
Karlis Skrastins (16 votes)
Chris Higgins (33 votes)
Someone else (3 votes)
No one (10 votes)
148 total votes