The closer we get to the draft, the more intriguing the Florida Panthers become.
The Panthers, already rumored to be shopping the first overall pick at the ’14 Draft, now reportedly have another potential move on their hands — defenseman Brian Campbell wants out, according to Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland.
Campbell, 35, has two years remaining on the massive eight-year, $57 million deal signed with Chicago in 2008. He carries an average annual cap hit of $7.14 million and, perhaps most importantly, holds an equal salary hit — Campbell didn’t sign one of those back-diving long-term deals the NHL has since penalized in the form of cap recapture.
If Strickland’s report of Campbell’s unhappiness in Florida is accurate, it won’t be entirely surprising. Campbell didn’t have Florida on his list of eight teams upon being traded from Chicago in 2011 (he had a modified no-trade clause) and Panthers GM Dale Tallon had to persuade Campbell to waive his NTC to come to Florida.
Here was Tallon’s sales pitch, per the Chicago Tribune. See any issues with it?
“We talked a couple of times,” said Tallon, who was the Hawks’ GM in 2008 when he signed Campbell to an eight-year, $56.8 million contract. “I explained the plan and the blueprint. It’s similar to what we did in Chicago. He was able to convince his family and fiance that this is the right move for him and I think it is. It was a great conversation with a guy who loves to play hockey. It was a tough decision for him.”
In Campbell’s contract, there are eight teams to which he can be traded without his permission but the Panthers weren’t on the list. In the end, Tallon’s pitch was enough for him to OK the move with the Hawks getting winger Rostislav Olesz in return.
“I was pretty quiet (Friday), mulling it over, thinking of all the positives and negatives of the situation,'” Campbell told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Dale did some great things in Chicago for a lot of guys and I’ve talked to a lot of my ex-teammates who are saying to me, ‘Get me there.’
“Dale will make this place very attractive for players. We’ll get this organization going in the right direction and make the fans want to come back to support a great team.”
Since that time, the Panthers have gone 82-98-32, made the playoffs just once and are now on the verge of hiring their third head coach after dismissing both Kevin Dineen and Peter Horachek.
Campbell, meanwhile, has seen his reputation take a hit by playing big minutes on a bad team. He’s minus-37 since joining the Panthers, prompting L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter to say the following:
As long as [Drew] Doughty is taking care of business in his own end and making a good first pass, Sutter will be happy.
The last thing the coach wants to see is Doughty trying to do it all himself.
“Well, if you do that all the time, you’re not a very good player,” said Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “You’re Brian Campbell in Florida. You’ll be minus-20. And we’ll see you on the highlights, but you’re on a bad team, and you’re a high-minus player.”
Should Campbell be made available via trade, he’ll be an interesting candidate. Though the cap hit is high, he’s still a quality point producer and excellent puck-mover, something the Oilers — who have nearly $26 million in cap space — are reportedly interested in acquiring.