As the dust settles on a very busy and very interesting first day of NHL free agency, the Florida Panthers find themselves as one of the biggest spenders on day one, shelling out just north of $60 million for six players. There's still needs to address according to general manager Dale Tallon, including another defensive signing, and the possibility for trades certainly exists due to the now-filled bucket of forwards that new head coach Gerard Gallant will have to choose from. The signings of Jussi Jokinen, Derek MacKenzie, Shawn Thornton and Dave Bolland almost certainly pushes some of the youth right back down to the AHL, which is not a bad thing as the San Antonio Rampage need all the help they can get. There's something to be said for the young guys getting more AHL seasoning and hopefully developing some chemistry together in San Antonio as well.
So who is left for the Panthers to target? The Cats still have room for about one or two more signings, so we'll see, but expect things to be relatively quiet moving forward. There is a need for another defensive player, and guys like Chris Butler, Michael Del Zotto, Jamie McBain and Joni Pitkanen are still out there to sign. Willie Mitchell was a solid signing for the Cats in terms of defensive depth, but with how poor the Panthers played last year in their own zone, at least one more depth signing would be nice, someone to slot into the bottom pairing perhaps.
There are also some intriguing forward options out there, including Radim Vrbata, David Legwand, Devin Setoguchi and Mikhail Grabovski, though the Panthers would need to shed some other salary to make those acquisitions feasible and still bring in another defenseman. It's likely that Tallon stands pat on the forward corps and creates a situation in which the youth have to fight for jobs, and if they don't make it, then the AHL club is just that much better off.
It was a crazy day one, and day two will likely have it's moments as well. Join in with us again today and share your thoughts on the madness that is free agency.