The Panthers claimed they would be active on July 1, and they continue to be true to their word, this time signing former Maple Leaf (and former Blackhawk) center Dave Bolland to a five-year, $27.5m deal. The annual cap hit will be $5.5m per year. Bolland stated that his choices were down to Toronto and Florida, and it certainly looks like he pursued the benjamins in this case.
This is a big-time head scratcher for the Cats in terms of a free agent signing. Yes, Bolland is an effective player, a solid two-way center who is pretty good in the face-off circle and can score some pretty timely goals. He's an excellent addition to any team and the type of player many teams who want to travel deep into the postseason need. That said, he's now making as much as John Tavares. I'm just going to wait here a few seconds while that sinks in.
Got that? Good. It's obvious a perennial basement club like the Panthers has to overpay to bring in top-end free agents. But is it necessary to bring in mid-to-low-end free agents as well? Bolland's skill set is desirable but what the Cats need are impact forwards and solid defensemen, not another 2nd or 3rd line player who is now grossly overpaid for his services. This could go down as the big stinker of the day for Dale Tallon and the Panthers, and although I'm sure Bolland will contribute both on and off the ice in Florida, this sets an ugly precedent for the club and for Tallon moving forward.