Tukka Rask, Scottie Upshall

Desperate Panthers over-spend on Ed Jovanovski and Scottie Upshall’s four-year deals

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Look, I understand that Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon needs to get his team to the salary cap floor of $48 million. With a team that has such a limited group of talent and is suffering from such a long playoff drought, it makes sense that the former Chicago Blackhawks general manager will need to overpay people to bring them to Sunrise, Florida.

That being said, couldn’t he have signed these bad contracts for one year rather than giving people stupid money for longer periods of time? Tomas Kopecky probably received $1 million too much per year to come to Florida with a four-year, $12 million deal, the team took on Brian Campbell’s ridiculous contract and now they gave Scottie Upshall a top-line forward deal of four years, $14 million.

Update: things have gotten even worse, apparently. Tallon brought Ed Jovanovski back to Florida with a ridiculous four-year, $16.5 million deal. There’s a neat nostalgic element to this signing because the Panthers made Jovanovski the first overall pick of the 1994 draft and he went on to help them make their one magical run to the 1996 Stanley Cup finals. That was a long time ago, though; Jovanovski has been an extremely injury-prone defenseman since he left Florida. He only played 50 games in 2010-11 and 66 in 09-10. While he showed some signs of health with Phoenix before that (82 games in 08-09 and 80 in 07-08) but six of his last eight seasons have been wrecked by injuries.

Upshall’s $3.5 million salary cap hit, Jose Theodore’s $1.5 million and Jovanovski’s $4.13 million will lift the Panthers’ number to about $47.4 million, leaving them less than one million short of that $48 million floor. All it cost them was a coherent roster and long-term plan to get there.

In case you wanted some re-emphasis, Upshall’s deal is not a very good deal at all, either. Both the term and the annual salary are out of whack for what can be reasonably expected of Upshall. He’s scored 22 goals once in his career (in 2010-11); other than that he’s been a guy whose speed hasn’t really produced much as far as results. (At least for $3.5 million per year.)

Again, we understand that the Panthers are in a bind, but these deals might put the team in a bad position once their prospects start to mature. In other words, this team could be in a similar (if less promising) situation as Tallon’s last team – the Chicago Blackhawks. That team saw simultaneous breakthroughs of prospects soon after he saddled the club with ugly contracts like those of Campbell and jettisoned goalie Cristobal Huet.

Upshall, Jovanovski and the rest of the Panthers might prove us wrong in the long run, but from the looks of things, they’re not spending their money very wisely.

Video: Hextall comments on AHL d-man Pyett, who was diagnosed with sarcoma in leg

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Defenseman Logan Pyett of the Philadelphia Flyers’ AHL affiliate has been diagnosed with a form of cancer and will be out indefinitely.

The team said Friday the 27-year-old Canadian has a sarcoma in his upper leg. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall says the club offers “heartfelt thoughts and prayers.”

Pyett signed a one-year contract with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after being at the Flyers’ training camp. He was selected by Detroit in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL entry draft. He signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers in 2012 and spent two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.