On Tuesday, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon was on Sportsnet’s Fan 590 to discuss his surprising squad — just one point back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the East — and what the future might have in store.
It’s a future that could see the Panthers be deadline buyers for the first time in a while.
“We’re in a good position,” Tallon explained. “I don’t think we’re going to change much, regardless of where we’re at — we’re still keeping an eye on the future as well — but we’re in a good position where we can either add from within, or go out and get somebody.
“So it’s all good.”
After a mediocre start to the season — Florida was 7-6-6 following a 4-1 loss to Minnesota on Nov. 24 — the Panthers have caught fire, going 13-5-3 over their last 21 games which includes their current three-game winning streak. Roberto Luongo is playing at a Vezina level (17-7-7, 2.23 GAA, .927 save percentage) and the club is getting tremendous production from youngsters Nick Bjugstad and Aaron Ekblad, which has brought excitement back to Sunrise; the Panthers drew 15,000 or more fans in each of their four home games prior to the current road swing.
So, why not keep the enthusiasm going and push for just the second playoff appearance in 14 years?
The Panthers do have some flexibility in terms of financial maneuvering. There’s a slew of veterans that are pending UFAs — Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall, Tomas Kopecky and Sean Bergenheim — and a number of prospects on entry-level deals playing very well in AHL San Antonio (Rocco Grimaldi, Alex Petrovic and Quinton Howden, to name a few.)
Tallon alluded to these factors when discussing how he’ll approach the deadline.
“We’re always looking to get better,” he explained. “We have some good young players in San Antonio that we want to get to, and we have some good players that we have to sign this offseason.
“So we’re in a good position. We’re obviously in the hunt.”