Florida Panthers trim head coach candidates to six

Focusing on the guy in the middle, not on the right. - Jamie Sabau

Report: Tallon, Inc. moves closer to deciding on Peter Horachek's successor

Despite the Florida Panthers having made zero on-ice news since early April - in fact, it's because of it - the Cats remain a darling of the NHL rumor circuit thanks to a coaching vacancy which happens to coincide with the best free agent bench-boss class in recent times and Florida's ownership of the NHL Entry Draft's first overall selection in a few weeks. Times are good in Sunrise for management.

The Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov has been a beast on the Tweets of late, culminating in a short story published Tuesday outlining a few questions with general manager Dale Tallon on several subjects, most notably regarding the vacant coaching position:

Tallon said I had the right six in Tuesday’s paper, including Dan Bylsma, Marc Crawford, Tom Renney, Bill Peters, Ron Wilson and Gerard Gallant. He spoke to Bylsma on Monday and will talk to him again with the owners either Tuesday or Wednesday. Bylsma is in New York doing analyst work on NHL Network.

Tallon said he’s enjoying all the attention for the franchise because of their search for a coach and their possession of the overall top draft pick which is coveted by several teams. Tallon confirmed he has had one very fair offer for the pick and that he has interviewed 12 coaching candidates, but has narrowed the field down to six – all which will be interviewed again this week.

By all (unofficial) accounts Bylsma remains the front runner, though just prior to his own dismissal by the Penguins, Florida was heavily eyeballing Crawford, Renney, and Gallant, according to a source close to the team, describing said trio as their "top 3". Where it stands now is anyone's guess as Panthers management tiptoes through a minefield of needs and desires.

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