Free agency is here and the Panthers were big players on day 1.
The Cats signed 3 players to fill specific roles. Radek Dvorak returns to South Florida with a 2 year deal, Richard Zednik signs on for 2 years and Brett McLean for 3. None of the signings were suprising as it was expected Jacques Martin would sign 3 forwards.
Zednik scored 30 goals in 2002-03, but the past 2 years he’s had injuries and some personal issues. The 31 year old is healthy now and likely slides into the left wing spot next to Stephen Weiss
and Nathan Horton. It's a good fit as Zednik is not afraid to do the dirty work in the corners and has a scorer’s touch.
Radek Dvorak comes in to likely play on the 3rd line. He was the Panthers No. 1 pick back in 1995 and played on the '96 Cup finals team. At 30 years old, Dvorak will be a solid penalty killer and add much needed speed. He is also versatile, able to play both wings and because of his speed can play on virtually any line.
The most intriguing signing is center Brett McLean from Colorado. He is the type of player I love. A guy who has never been handed anything and will work, work, work! McLean is 28 and has been in the league for 3 years. Last year he scored 15 goals and finished the year on a line with Paul Stasny and Milan Hejduk. McLean fits in as a 3rd line center here with Dvorak and Rostislav Olesz. Those three should have a big impact in all facets of the game.
The Panthers efficient off-season continues. The hockey staff indentified the team's needs and formulated a plan. The plan included:
Improve in goal...Tomas Vokoun acquired in a trade for draft picks.
Re-sign key players...Bryan Allen gets 5 year deal, Nathan Horton 6. Stephen Weiss
and Jay Bouwmeester are next.
Fill in forward spots...Sunday's signings
It is only July but here a look at the potential Panther line-up in October.
Peltonen Jokinen Stumpel
Zednik Weiss Horton
Olesz McLean Dvorak
TBD Campbell Booth
Bouwmeester - Allen
Van Ryn - Salei
Murphy- Welch - Mezei - Montador
Vokoun - Anderson