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Division leaders could look to add veteran forward for stretch run

Panthers NHL Trade Deadline outlook

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the Florida Panthers:


Record: 32-16-6, 70 points; 1st in Atlantic Division

Unrestricted free agents: Jaromir Jagr, RW; Shawn Thornton, RW; Brian Campbell, D; Willie Mitchell, D; Al Montoya, G

Restricted free agents: Brandon Pirri, LW; Vincent Trocheck, C; Quinton Howden, LW; Logan Shaw, RW; Corban Knight, RW; Erik Gudbranson, D

Projected 2016 draft picks: 6 (1 first)

Projected 2017: draft picks 8 (1 first)

Needs: Scoring, veteran defenseman

Surpluses: Prospects, young defensemen

Players Potentially in Play: Pirri, Knight, Gudbranson

Likely status: Buyer

Skinny: The Panthers' methodical building plan, which started when Dale Tallon took over as general manager in May 2010, appears to be coming to fruition. Since starting the season 8-9-4, the Panthers have gone 24-7-2, the third-best record in the NHL during that span. They appear headed for what would be only their second playoff appearance since the 1999-2000 season. The Panthers have received valuable contributions from veterans Roberto Luongo, Jaromir Jagr, Brian Campbell and Jussi Jokinen, but the foundation is a long list of players 25 or younger led by Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad. The Panthers have also received balanced scoring with eight players in double digits in goals; they finished with seven last season. Given their recent success and Tallon's repeated declarations he won't sacrifice the long term for immediate rewards, it won't be a major surprise if the Panthers do little of significance at the trade deadline. That said, Tallon could be looking to add a veteran player at the right cost, with the preference being a forward with some scoring ability and past playoff production. The Panthers would love to be able to move center Dave Bolland and his $5.5 million-a-year contract, but the chances of that happening reside somewhere between slim and none. Instead, the Panthers likely will have to trade one of their impending restricted free agents or one of their remaining American Hockey League prospects if they hope to make a trade similar to the one that brought Jagr from the New Jersey Devils last February.

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