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Coyotes GM: Bolland ‘won’t be ready to play for the foreseeable future’ due to injury

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Arizona Coyotes fans anticipating Dave Bolland‘s debut for his new team will have to wait, and a long time, too, by the sounds of it.

On Thursday, the Florida Panthers traded the 30-year-old Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for draft picks. Bolland, who has an annual cap hit of $5.5 million, played in only 25 games last season, scoring once with five points.

The move frees up plenty of cap space for the Panthers, while the Coyotes did well to pick up a young forward in Crouse, a former first-round pick who has yet to play in the NHL.

However, at the moment, Bolland is dealing with an injury that could keep him out of any lineup for quite a while. Perhaps the entire season. Taking on Bolland’s salary was a “necessary component” in completing the deal, said Coyotes GM John Chayka.

Last season, Bolland was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions, which could be frustrating for any player or any organization, but he was locked into a massive five-year, $27.5 million contract.

And that massive contract, or Florida’s desire to move it along, has cost the Panthers a prospect forward.

Panthers trade Dave Bolland, Lawson Crouse to Coyotes

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 27:  Dave Bolland #63 of the Florida Panthers looks on during a game against the Colorado Avalanche at BB&T Center on October 27, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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This is part of Florida Panthers day at PHT…

It’s Florida Panthers day at PHT so it’s only fitting that they would start the day by completing a trade, which they did on Thursday morning by sending veteran forward Dave Bolland and 2015 first-round draft pick Lawson Crouse to the Coyotes in exchange for two draft picks.

As part of the deal the Panthers will get a 2017 third-round pick and a conditional 2018 second-round pick. ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that 2018 second-round pick will become a third-round pick if Crouse does not play in Arizona this season.

“We are very pleased to acquire Lawson,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said in a team statement. “He’s a big, physical, power forward who is a strong skater with good hands. Players of his caliber and profile are extremely hard to find.”

The key to this deal for Florida is, obviously, dumping the remainder of Bolland’s contract and clearing a significant amount of cap space both this year and in the future. Bolland’s deal still has a salary cap hit of $5.5 million per season for another three years. Since signing the five-year, $27 million deal in free agency before the start of the 2014-15 season, Bolland has played in just 78 games for the Panthers and scored only seven goals.

At the time of the contract Bolland was just one year removed from scoring the game-winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final for the Chicago Blackhawks, while his injury the following year was looked at as a costly blow to a Maple Leafs team that fell apart in the second half of the season. So even though his overall production throughout his career didn’t really match the hype or the interest, he was still able to get a huge deal in free agency.

It has been an extremely costly contract for the Panthers, and the price became even steeper on Monday when they had to give up a prospect that was the No. 11 pick (Crouse) in the draft just last year to get rid of it.

And that is what makes the deal worth it for Arizona.

The Coyotes are pretty much buying a top prospect, and adding to an already deep pool of young players, for the price of taking on another contract that has almost no value to anybody else in the league. They picked up a first-round pick from the Detroit Red Wings earlier this summer for taking the final year of Pavel Datsyuk’s contract after he left the NHL to play in Russia, and last year made a deal with the Philadelphia Flyers to take on the remainder of Chris Pronger‘s contract. Because the Coyotes are so far below the league’s salary cap they are able to take on these deals without much of an issue and use them to keep adding young talent to a fast improving team.

Bolland back from AHL stint, but now dealing with injury

Ottawa Senators v Florida Panthers
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Underachieving center Dave Bolland is back with the Panthers following his conditioning stint in the minors, but it’s unclear when he’ll actually be back in the lineup.

More, from the Miami Herald:

Bolland returned to the Panthers on Monday and his gear is back in the team locker room but he might not play right away.

Bolland sustained some sort of injury while on assignment to Florida’s AHL team in Portland, Maine.

General manager Dale Tallon would only say that Bolland is being evaluated for a “lower-body” injury.

Bolland, 29, has been a major disappointment this season, and that disappointment’s been exacerbated by the fact that, at $5.5 million annually, he’s Florida’s highest-paid forward.

Head coach Gerard Gallant’s made Bolland a healthy scratch on a number of occasions this season, but insisted he wasn’t trying to send the veteran center a message.

Yet by sending him to the minors, the Panthers pretty much did exactly that.

Bolland appeared in two games for Portland during his stint, registering one point. He last played on Saturday, in a 2-1 win over Bridgeport.

Panthers send $27.5M man Bolland to minors for ‘conditioning’ stint

Ottawa Senators v Florida Panthers

Dave Bolland‘s nightmare campaign in Florida continues.

On Tuesday, the Panthers announced they demoted Bolland to their AHL affiliate in Portland on a conditioning assignment though, according to the Miami Herald, you might want to toss some air quotes around “conditioning.”

Bolland, 29, has been a major disappointment this season, and that disappointment’s been exacerbated by the fact that, at $5.5 million annually, he’s Florida’s highest-paid forward.

Head coach Gerard Gallant’s made Bolland a healthy scratch on a number of occasions this season, but insisted he wasn’t trying to send the veteran center a message.

Now, it appears the organization is doing exactly that.

“We need Dave to play more minutes and regain his confidence with the offensive side of his game, so that he can help us in the second half of the season,” Florida GM Dale Tallon explained, per Sportsnet.

Since Bolland wasn’t exposed to waivers and is going to Portland on a “conditioning” stint, his max stay in the AHL is two weeks. It’s not unlike what the Leafs did recently with goalie Jonathan Bernier.

On the year, Bolland has one goal and five points in 25 games, averaging just 14:06 TOI per game — his lowest since breaking in which Chicago as a rookie.

In a corresponding move to the Bolland demotion, the Panthers recalled Rocco Grimaldi.

Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.