Panthers Monday Caterwaul

Just thinking aloud after prying my weary eyes away from EA Tiger '11 (which truly rocks, btw)...

As the weeks since free agency began drag on, it's looking less likely that a big-ticket UFA will be acquired by the Panthers in solidifying the roster for the 2010-11 season. That's okay, we're all painfully aware, aside from the Kovalchuk Chronicles, there are few purebreds left to be had, not that there were many to begin with. In fact, a pidlding number of the supposed Big Names would have qualified for that title in just about any other summer. Florida's signing of forward Christopher Higgins was understandably no headliner, but the deal is cheap ($1.6M), it's short (one year), and the kid needed a fresh start in a bad way. Beyond re-upping Jason Garrison and qualifying several other prospects in the system (while letting others who had stayed well past their expiration dates walk), the Cats have been quiet on the free agent market. Precisely as GM Dale Tallon had led us to believe.

Trades are something he hasn't shied from, and in moving out two longtimers in Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell plus the insane contract saddled around Keith Ballard's neck he has begun to clear the stale air from the BAC dressing room. More work remains, obviously, but these were moves that simply had to be made, almost regardless of the return. But we'll talk more Olesz as the summer moves along.

There is the possiblity of a "throwaway" season ahead, which the club would vehemently deny, basically an opportunity to give the likes of Shawn Matthias, Michael Grabner, Evgeny Dadonov, Michal Repik, et al bona fide big league minutes and special teams play. At least among the younger forwards; should 36-year old Cory Stillman (average TOI: 17:34) remain above 23-year old Kenndal McArdle (8:54) simply by default? Granted both have one year remaining on their current deals, and contract years are always an interesting proposition, but all things being equal, Stiller's probably worth more to the Panthers as a trading chip.

Kind of a moot point considering the use of left wings as an example, since it's not necessarily an area of strength for the club, beyond that Booth guy we keep hearing about.