To say the Florida Panthers didn’t add much in free agency is an understatement — their biggest signings were (probably) Joey Crabb and Mike Mottau.
But GM Dale Tallon says it’s all part of the plan.
“We’re going to go with our young guys,” Tallon told NHL.com. “That’s been the plan all along and that’s the way we’re going to go.”
In fairness to Tallon, it’s a plan worth trying.
Florida has been stockpiling high draft picks ever since 2010 — the year Tallon joined the club — and now appears primed to show ’em off.
In 2010, it was Erik Gudbranson (third overall), Nick Bjugstad (19th) and Quinton Howden (25th).
In 2011, it was this year’s Calder Trophy winner, Jonathan Huberdeau (third overall) and Rocco Grimaldi (33rd overall).
In 2012, it was Mike Matheson (23rd overall) and at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, it was Aleksander Barkov (second overall).
All told, that’s seven top-35 picks, and a few others selected just outside the top 35 (Alex Petrovic, Vincent Trochek) that are ready to challenge for spots as well.
While the Panthers figure to go through some major growing pains with so many youngsters in the lineup, Tallon says it’s a necessary step to speed up the learning process. Florida can’t exactly go through a lengthy rebuild, given the club has only made the playoffs once in the last 12 seasons.
“We’ve got to go in a different direction with our young guys,” Tallon said. “The Barkovs and Bjugstads and [Drew] Shores and Trochecks — those are the guys that are our future.
“That’s what’s going to have to get done here.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the youngsters mix with Florida’s old guard.
The Panthers are captained by Ed Jovanovski — who just turned 37 in June — and will probably need to lean on fellow blueliners like Mottau (35) Mike Weaver (34) and Brian Campbell (33) for guidance.