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Free Agency: The Florida Panthers and New Money

The off-season can be just as tumultuous as the regular and postseason, and as these teams have been reminding us, free agency is just around the corner.  So what´s their situation?

Panthers-jersey Florida started off with a bang as they took drained the Chicago Blackhawks of Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky, taking on about $10 million according to  GM Dale Tallon´s next target appears to be goaltender Tomas Vokoun, whose spent the last four years in Florida. 

His cap hit during that time came out to $5.7 million annually, the second highest behind defenseman Bryan McCabe, who was dealt to the New York Rangers this past season. 

Vokoun performed well enough to demand a decent salary in his years with the Panthers, averaging a .931 save percentage and 2.57 goals against in 248 games.  While their younger goalies continue to develop, the Panthers will need a veteran to keep them afloat, and Vokoun appears to be their man.

It doesn´t hurt that they must spend at least $22 million to hit the new cap floor of $48 million.

After Vokoun, their unrestricted free agents are forwards Sergei Samsanov, Marty Reasoner, Darcy Hordichuk, and Ryan Carter.  As one of their top offenseman and in his prime at 34, it would be no surprise if Reasoner was another one of their top priorities, but many other teams with new cap space may have their sights on him as well.

Restricted free agent Mike Santorelli is also a hot offensive commodity, with his 41 points (20g, 21a) making him the second-highest scorer on the team.  Other restricted forwards are Steve Bernier, Nicklas Bergfors, Shawn Matthias, and Byron Bitz

The clock won´t strike until next year for Florida´s blueline, as only Alexander Sulzer and Joe Callahan stand unrestricted.  Neither are offensive dynamos, with one assist each in the 2010-2011 season and , and -3 and -1 plus/minus respectively; with other prospects on the market, their future in the South is questionable.

It will be exciting to see how Tallon spends all the new money, and even more so, how it weighs on the team in the future.


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