Dale Tallon continued his summer-long overhaul of the Florida Panthers on Sunday evening when he traded veteran defenseman Jason Demers to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Jamie McGinn.
It was an exciting addition for the Coyotes and a pretty eye-opening trade for the Panthers.
First, even though he was coming off of a down year in 2016-17, Demers can still be a very good second-pairing defenseman and it creates a pretty big opening on their blue line.
Meanwhile, McGinn probably tops out as a third-or fourth-line winger. Looking at it strictly from a talent and upside perspective the Panthers would seem to be getting the short end of the trade on paper. The only thing it really does do for them is save a lot of salary over the next few years.
That is something has been a theme with a lot of the Panthers’ moves this summer.
Demers is still signed for another four years at a salary cap hit of $4.5 million per season.
The Panthers are retaining 12 percent of that salary and will pay around $575,000 of it per season.
McGinn is signed for two more years at $3.3 million per season.
So while there are only marginal savings for the Panthers in the short-term, once McGinn’s deal is finished (assuming he is not traded before then) the Panthers will shed around $4 million per year in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
That is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Panthers’ changes this past summer.
They decided to part ways with veteran forward Jaromir Jagr and opted not to bring him back after paying him $4 million a season ago. They also bought out the final year of Jussi Jokinen‘s contract, a move that saved them $2.7 million.
Along with losing Jonathan Marchessault — their leading goal-scorer last season — to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, they traded veteran forward Reilly Smith to the Golden Knights for a draft pick, dumping his entire five-year, $25 million contract in the process.
In total, five of their top-eight point producers from a year ago (Marchessault, Jagr, Smith, Jokinen, Demers) are now gone.
When you add up the salaries from all of the trades and buyouts it ended up taking $12.45 million in salary off the cap this season alone (and that does not include not re-signing Jagr) with only McGinn’s $3.3 million coming in to replace them.
The Panthers did dip into free agency and replace some of that by paying $6.5 million this season ($4 million to Evgeni Dadonov and $2.5 million to Radim Vrbata), and they do still have a significant portion of their young core, including Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad and Aaron Ekblad all signed to long-term deals.
At this moment they have the third smallest cap figure in the league for this season, ahead of only the Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes.
With Jagr, Jokinen, Demers, Marchessault, and Smith all getting shipped out, with only Dadonov, Vrbata and McGinn coming in it, seems pretty clear management was not only trying to dump some salary, but also shed away a lot of the complementary players that were a part of what was a bitterly disappointing 2016-17 season.
Will it work? That remains to be seen.
(All salary cap information via CapFriendly.com)