The hiring of Joel Quenneville was the first move in what Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is hoping will be a big off-season for the franchise. Now with the beginning of the free agency period 10 days away, he has a message to those players who might be interested in joining the team.
“Well, I hope those people have a lot of sunscreen,” Tallon said on Thursday. “Come down to Florida, it’s nice and hot. We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to do the right thing and hope the chips fall where they may. But we’re going to make sure we’re in there and be aggressive.”
The Panthers missed the playoffs for the third straight season and with a projected $20M in cap space, per Cap Friendly, and no real big extensions to hand out in-house, Tallon is ready to dive into the free agent market and land some big fish.
“We’ve got the full support of [Panthers owner] Vinnie Viola,” Tallon said. “He wants me to be aggressive in free agency and wants to spend to the [salary cap ceiling], so we’re going to do what the boss wants us to do. I’m happy with that. With our new coaching staff and the flexibility we have, we’re very optimistic about our future.”
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General managers are still waiting to find out the final salary cap numbers for the 2019-20 NHL season, but spending to whatever the limit ends up being will be music to Panthers fans’ ears. Quenneville’s hiring was huge, but now Tallon needs to deliver on the goal of an aggressive summer reshaping the roster. Roberto Luongo‘s future is in doubt and those rumors of Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin coming to Sunrise as a pair linger.
“I want to sell our wares and tell them where we’re headed and what we’re doing in the marketplace,” Tallon said. “Yeah, I’d love them to know [Quenneville] and I face to face. We have a solid culture there now. We’ve got a coach in place for the next five years. Vinnie Viola’s committed, we’re staying there. We have got stability all through the organization and we’re committed to winning, and those are the things that we want to say, regardless of where we’re located.
“You could be located anywhere. If you’re not committed, it doesn’t matter. We have to let people know and show them that we are committed.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.