Panthers GM Dale Tallon sees a lot of the Blackhawks in his current team

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daletallon1.jpgEven though Dale Tallon wasn’t there to enjoy it, last season’s Blackhawks championship had his finger prints all over it. He was the guy who signed or drafted a great number of the players that helped the Blackhawks end their 49-year Stanley Cup drought and now he finds himself in Florida as GM of the Panthers thinking that there are similarities between the Blackhawks and Panthers when it comes to building from seemingly nothing. Dan Rosen of NHL.com gets the story from the guy who’s looking to turn around the team in Sunrise.

Tallon, who built the Blackhawks into Stanley Cup champions, has spent the first three months of his new job assessing the situation in Florida and “slowly but surely chipping away at the block.”

“We probably had a few more assets to start with here (Florida) than we had there (Chicago), but it’s a challenge and I’m looking forward to it,” Tallon told NHL.com from the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp Fueled By G Series.

What has Tallon done with the Panthers so far? He’s turned them from the butt of jokes on the ice and a source of irrelevancy in South Florida to a team that’s at least got some buzz surrounding them. Being the architect of a Stanley Cup winning team can help make that happen. By adding guys like Chris Higgins, Marty Reasoner, Nathan Paetsch, Mike Weaver, and Andrew Peters he’s making the Panthers a tougher team as well as a more economically sound one. There are good players there now with David Booth and Stephen Weiss, but that’s a far cry from being a loaded team. As for what he has done, Tallon states the company line.

“We added the pieces we needed to add to make ourselves better,” Tallon
said. “We added more depth at all positions, and we did it in a fiscally
responsible way.”

Where Tallon’s abilities will be tested the most, however, is improving the Panthers farm system which is virtually bone dry. Drafting Erik Gudbranson third overall this year was a good start towards making things better. With the moves the Panthers have made to build depth on defense this year, they’ve made it OK for them to be able to send Gudbranson back to juniors just in case he isn’t ready right away out of training camp. Gudbranson also might help remind people of another big, tough defenseman from Tallon’s days in Chicago – a guy named Duncan Keith.

For now though, the Panthers are likely to be a bit too similar to Tallon’s first few teams in Chicago that struggled mightily and accumulated high draft picks much to their benefit. After all, guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane don’t just grow on trees. While the Panthers might not be as bad as those Hawks teams (65 points in 2005-2006 and 71 points in 2006-2007), the future of the team is at least in seemingly good hands with Tallon in charge now rather than the wandering aimlessly version of the team we’ve seen for the better part of the last 10 years.

With DeKeyser locked up, Holland still has work to do in Detroit

Ken Holland
AP
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There’s nothing too flashy about Danny DeKeyser‘s game.

“Basically,” he told reporters today, “my game, I just try to move the puck well, play solid defensively, chip in some points or goals here or there when I can, and just try to be a good team player and do things that help the team win.”

For that, the Red Wings gave the steady defenseman a six-year, $30 million contract, avoiding an arbitration hearing in the process. Yes, it’s a significant amount of money for a d-man that doesn’t contribute a ton of offense, but as we’ve already seen this offseason, players like DeKeyser have significant value. The Edmonton Oilers gave up Taylor Hall to get one.

Re-signing DeKeyser is not expected to stop GM Ken Holland from trying to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

If Holland can’t swing a deal, Detroit’s pairings could look something like this:

DeKeyser — Mike Green
Jonathan Ericsson — Niklas Kronwall
Brendan SmithAlexey Marchenko
Xavier Ouellet

It’s not a particularly young group. Kronwall is 35, Ericsson is 32, and Green is 30. The Red Wings chose not to re-sign veteran Kyle Quincey, and so far he has not been replaced. In June, they drafted a defenseman in the first round, but Dennis Cholowski is a ways away from playing in the NHL; he’s off St. Cloud State in the fall. There are a few other young blue-liners in the system, like Joe Hicketts, Ryan Sproul and Robbie Russo, but they all still have some developing to do.

At the very least, Holland now has some cost certainty with DeKeyser. The next step will be getting Petr Mrazek‘s deal done, possibly with the aid of tomorrow’s arbitration hearing. After that, it’ll be working to get that defenseman he covets.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk

Nugent-Hopkins trying to ignore trade rumors — ‘If it happens, it happens’

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 14:  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #93 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Boston Bruins during the first period at TD Garden on December 14, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Ryan Nugent-Hopkins trade speculation may have died down since it peaked at the draft in late June, but it’s not entirely dead.

The 23-year-old former first overall draft pick was asked to address the ongoing rumors Monday at an Oilers charity golf tournament.

“I try not to pay attention too much,” Nugent-Hopkins said, per the Edmonton Journal. “If it happens, it happens. I know it’s definitely a different group than the one we finished with last season.”

Indeed it is. Most notably, Taylor Hall is in New Jersey now, traded for defenseman Adam Larsson. The Oilers also signed Milan Lucic and drafted Jesse Puljujarvi.

What’s still lacking is an offensive defenseman who can run the power play, which is why the names Tyson Barrie (Avalanche) and Matt Dumba (Wild) have been floated as potential targets.

The Wild in particular could use a good, young center like Nugent-Hopkins, and the expansion draft is looming for a Minnesota club that already has defensemen Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, and Marco Scandella locked up in long-term contracts.

Barrie, meanwhile, has an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

Blues d-man Kevin Shattenkirk is another name that’s come up; however, he can become an unrestricted free agent after next season, and whether he’d re-sign in Edmonton is in doubt.

Flyers reportedly avoid arbitration with Manning, sign him for two more years

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Chalk up another arbitration hearing that won’t be required. This time it’s Brandon Manning‘s. The 26-year-old defenseman has agreed on a two-year, $1.95 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, according to CSN Philly.

Manning’s hearing was scheduled for next Tuesday. He was the last restricted free agent on the Flyers, after Brayden Schenn re-signed Monday.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the Manning signing.

Manning played 56 games for the Flyers in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL. He had one goal and six assists while logging an average ice time of 16:32.

Report: Blackhawks, Rundblad agree to terminate contract

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 09:  David Rundblad #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period at American Airlines Center on October 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are reportedly parting ways with defenseman David Rundblad. The two sides have agreed to a contract termination, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Rundblad, 25, was set to earn $1.1 million this season, per General Fanager. His cap hit was $1.05 million, meaning the ‘Hawks will gain $100,000 in cap space by not having to bury his contract in the AHL next season.

Rundblad was unlikely to make the Blackhawks in 2016-17 — not after the additions of Brian Campbell and Michal Kempny, and also the re-signing of Michal Rozsival.

It remains to be seen where Rundblad will end up. One possibility is back in Switzerland, where he spent part of last season before dressing three times for the ‘Hawks in the playoffs.