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Panthers awash in cap space, not expected to make big free agent splash

Dale Tallon

Dale Tallon talks to the media, after he was named the new General Manager of the Florida Panthers hockey team Tuesday, May 18, 2010, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)


The 2010 NHL free agency period is set to start at noon tomorrow and for a lot of teams, it’s a means to start fresh and forget about the previous season. For other teams, it offers the chance to correct problem areas that burned them in the playoffs and cost them a shot at the Stanley Cup. For teams like the Florida Panthers and new general manager Dale Tallon, it sometimes means having to play things close to the vest no matter how much salary cap space you’ve got to use as On Frozen Pond’s George Richards finds out.

“I don’t know how aggressive we’re going to be, but we’re going to try to get better and find players who make sense for us at this time,’' said general manager Dale Tallon, whose team has 17 NHL regulars under contract for next season.

“I don’t think we’re going after the top guys, but good guys that can help us and not affect our future.’'

The Panthers were about $7 million under the salary cap last season and are currently about $12 million under this year’s cap of $59.4 million. Florida still needs to sign a couple of its restricted free agents, but are said to have a budget under what was spent last season.

For a team that’s sorely needing quality depth, having $12 million to spend on getting it is a handsome luxury, of course, that doesn’t mean they’ll be going hog wild either.

“We’re going to look at everything and everyone,’' Tallon said. “It’s important that we get better. A lot of guys are signed to long term deals so it’s harder to find that blue chip guy at the right price.’'

Anyone thinking that Dale Tallon’s job in Florida was going to be a quick fix sort of thing was, of course, greatly mistaken. For what it’s worth, the Panthers do have a handful of good players in place right now with Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Dmitry Kulikov and their first round pick from the 2010 draft Erik Gudbranson. The Panthers will need more though, but luckily for them they’re in the Southeast Division where getting a few things to break your way can lead to making the playoffs.