The youth movement in South Florida continues, as Tomas Fleischmann was traded Saturday, most likely to make room for a combination of Brandon Pirri, Vincent Trocheck, and Jaromir Jagr. The Cats are getting a 2015 third round draft pick and forward Dany Heatley in exchange for the 30-year-old scorer from the Czech Republic.
Both players become unrestricted free agents this summer, so this trade is mostly to ensure that the Panthers get something in return instead of just losing Flash to free agency. Heatley has been playing in the AHL for most of the season, and will report to San Antonio for the time being. Adding the "50 in '07" goal scorer to the package is probably just a way to help balance out the salaries, as the Cats are sending what remains of Fleischmann's $4.5M contract to Anaheim. Heatley is reportedly on a one-year, $1M deal.
"Flash" joined the Panthers during the 2011 offseason, when GM Dale Tallon signed a number of veteran forwards to keep the team competitive - but more importantly, above the salary floor - during his rebuild.
Flash had a career year his first season in Florida, scoring 27 goals and adding 34 assists for a team-leading 61 points. The line of he, Stephen Weiss, and Kris Versteeg provided lots of offense for a club that would ultimately win the Southeast Division that season, and make the franchise's first playoff appearance in 11 years. Unfortunately, the playoffs were a different story, and the team was ousted by the Devils in overtime of the seventh game of the first round. Flash had one goal in seven appearances.
Though expectations were high for the following season, the team plummeted, finishing 30th in the standings for the lockout-shortened campaign of 2012-13. Fleischmann continued to score, netting 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 points in the 48 games that were eventually played.
The season after would be a tough one for the team's former leading scorer, as he hit a wall and only managed 8 goals and 20 assists for 28 points in the full 82 game stretch.
What has been described by Tallon as a lack of confidence resulted in a reduced role for him this season, at least until injuries forced him up to the third line, with power play time. There, he picked up, notching 8 points in his last 13 games. His trade value spiked, and Dale saw an opportunity to get a return on Flash, especially since the winger would be leaving in the offseason in any case.
Flash provided offense that the team needed while being an integral part of the 2012 squad's run to the playoffs. He hit his prime here, and though he definitely started to decline over the past two seasons, he was still a useful player that could contribute if he was given the chance. I wish him the very best in Anaheim.