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UFA Day around the corner; will Panthers be active?

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The final blast of summer hockey headlines are due for arrival Thursday afternoon, otherwise known around our circuit as UFA Day (and, as well, Canada Day for our northern-based buds).

Though this is not a particularly banner crop of unrestricted free agents (Kyle Wellwood, anyone?) one name above all will undoubtedly have hockey fans across the continent salivating in anticipation: winger Ilya Kovalchuk, whose previous $7.5M salary is likely to escalate by well more than a third. Lots of talk about Los Angeles posting the inevitable winning bid. It sure as Shinola woun't be Atlanta. Whichever franchise marries itself to the 338 goal scorer will certainly need a Master of Capology to navigate those murky financial waters. Think the Panthers can hack it? And would you want him considering the cap restrictions he would burden the team with? Or is passing up a shot at one of the world's five best forwards simply too tasty? Is it even remotely realistic?

Semi-related: for a very well-written explanation of restricted free agency, check out Sean's excellent article at Nucks Misconduct.

We'll be going live with our 2010 UFA Day Open Thread of Calamity around 11am EST Thursday; join us throughout the day as we follow Dale & Da Boyz via the usual outlets.

In Panthers "news", Ville Koistinen cleared waivers today. You may exhale.