A floridapanthers.com exclusive, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will be sharing his thoughts with Panthers and hockey fans throughout the year in his blog entitled G.M. Journal.
We are now only a few days away from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles and, having not made the playoffs in nine seasons, our priority is to change the dynamic of this situation. I’ve made no secret of the fact that we are willing to discuss anything that can better our team, and this week is a big part of that.
With the No. 3 overall pick and four picks in the first two rounds, it’s going to be an exciting week for our organization, as well as our fans. Right now, a lot of other General Managers are just kicking the tires and seeing what is available, but undoubtedly things will intensify as the draft approaches.
We’ve already seen a few transactions that will no doubt set up further moves around the league over Draft weekend, and during free agency. For Panthers fans, it’s important to remember that we will leave no stone unturned when it comes to pointing this franchise in the right direction.
Our amateur scouts have done an incredible job preparing us for this year’s Draft, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of our 2010 draftees compete in training camp come September. In addition, as I’ve said before, I don’t consider any player on our current roster to be untouchable.
As I told starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun when I spoke to him last week, he’s our goalie and we are not shopping him, but if someone comes to us and knocks our socks off with a trade proposal, we are naturally going to listen.
Goaltending is a great strength for our organization, and it’s important to use those strengths as we build this team. We are fortunate to have a former All-Star like Tomas Vokoun as our starter – especially considering his brilliant performance at the World Championships - a capable back-up in Scott Clemmensen
, and some great goaltending prospects including Marc Cheverie, Alexander Salak and Jacob Markstrom
, who we signed to a professional contract earlier this month.
I met with Jacob a couple of times when I was in Europe for the World Championships, and he really is a wonderful human being, not to mention a very talented hockey player who will likely spend a year of seasoning in the AHL, before making a real push for a full-time NHL job.
As for the rest of our roster, clearly we have some holes to fill and some changes are needed. I’m sure that many of our fans read the comments from Nathan Horton’s agent Paul Krepelka, who claimed that Nathan could be traded. Since I was hired as GM of the Panthers, I’ve been up front about the fact that no one is untradeable, but Nathan is a talented player that his given a lot to this franchise and, in fairness to him, I am not going to have a conversation with his agent through the media.
That said, I am excited about the prospects of a landmark Draft weekend for our franchise. If we do our jobs well, this is the type of weekend that can jumpstart our team toward reaching our goals of making the postseason and becoming Stanley Cup contenders.
I’ve been fortunate enough to speak to and meet with Pete DeBoer numerous times over the last few weeks, including in Germany for the World Championships and in South Florida where we hosted a Cats Cookout for some of our fans. Pete and I share many of the same philosophies about successful hockey teams, and we also can have healthy debates about different subjects. But the overriding factor is that Pete is a good coach, and we are going to give him the pieces he needs to be successful.
We know what type of hockey team this market wants. We heard it from the fans at the BankAtlantic Center during the Cats Cookout, and we hear it from the media that we’ve interacted with. They want a fast, skilled, exciting team with loads of character. The fortunate thing is that’s the type of team that is successful in the league nowadays. You saw it in Chicago with a team that just won the Stanley Cup.
That’s the blueprint. We used it with the Blackhawks, so we know it works. There’s no doubt. All that’s left is the execution, and that begins in earnest at the Draft.