Dale Tallon promised he would reshuffle the deck and reshape the Florida Panthers, and the new GM in Sunrise got started on that process Tuesday by making his first major deal since being hired in May.
Tallon shipped forwards Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell off to Boston in exchange for defenseman Dennis Wideman and the 15th overall pick in this weekend's NHL Entry Draft. The Panthers will also receive Boston's third round pick in 2011.
The Bruins will already select second Friday night in Los Angeles and for now remain with seven picks in total, including two more in the second round (Nos. 32 and 45). The Panthers now have two picks in the top 15, including third overall, five picks in the top 50 and seven in the top 93.
"It wasn't whether we wanted a forward or defensemen, it was whether we could make a good deal, a fair deal," Tallon said on a conference call Tuesday. "Getting the first-round pick and finding the right match, sometimes you end up with a defenseman instead of a forward. The important thing to us was getting the first-round pick and getting a third-round pick to add to what we want to do in the long run, build through the draft. There were several partners and scenarios, but this one made the most sense."
Tallon did say he tried to pry the second overall pick away from the Bruins, but they weren't budging.
"There had been discussions, yes there were, but they were adamant on keeping it," he said.
Tallon also said that Horton indicated to him that he wanted a fresh start somewhere else.
"Obviously he was frustrated with what has gone on in the past and (wanted to know) if we could help him out to see what is out there for him," Tallon said. "That's how this all began. He showed frustration and felt it would maybe be better if he was able to go somewhere else.
"I said in my press conference that players want to be here will be here and players that want to play elsewhere will play elsewhere. That's what is going to happen here."
Boston appears to be a good destination for Horton because he should be able to help the League's worst offense from the right wing position. The Bruins finished dead last in scoring this past season at 2.39 goals per game.
Horton has 142 goals in 492 games but has not lived up to the expectations that came when he was selected third overall in 2003. However, he's only 25 years old and has scored at least 20 goals in each of the past five seasons, topping out at 31 in 2006-07. He is reportedly still owed $12 million over the next three years on a six-year contract he signed before the '07 Entry Draft.
Horton had 20 goals and 37 points in 65 games this past season. The 20 goals were a low for him since he scored 14 in 55 games as a rookie in 2003-04.
Campbell is not a big-time scorer, but he's a depth center, now a position of wealth for the Bruins when you factor in Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, the likely addition of Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick, David Krejci and Vladimir Sobotka.
It is possible one of those centers (not Seguin) gets moved in another trade for another scoring winger.
Wideman is a nice addition to the Panthers' blue line, but the key that made this deal get done is the first-round pick. Tallon, who was a key builder of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup championship team, is a big believer in building through the draft and the Class of 2010 is deep and talented.
As GM of the Hawks, he drafted Jonathan Toews second overall in 2006 and Patrick Kane first overall in 2007. He also selected Niklas Hjalmarsson in 2005. Under his watch, Chicago draft picks Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland, Dustin Byfuglien and Troy Brouwer all blossomed as well.
They were all picked before Tallon became GM of the Hawks in 2005.
"It's how we did it before and that's how I plan to do it, through the draft," Tallon said. "We have four picks in the first 36 and hopefully we'll get four quality players. That's how we'll build this thing and still stay competitive while we're doing it. That's the goal."
In terms of immediate returns, Wideman gives Florida a deeper defense corps. He'll likely jump into their top-four and perhaps their top-two depending on future moves that Tallon could make.
Wideman had 30 points and was a minus-14 this past season, but he had 12 points in 13 games during the playoffs. He is a year removed from his best season ever, when he recorded 50 points and was plus-32 while playing primarily with Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara.
"I think he was frustrated early in the year, lost some of his minutes and probably tried to do too much, but he bounced back after the trading deadline and had a good finish to the season and an outstanding playoff," Tallon said. "He'll get a lot of ice time and spark the power play."
Tallon still plans on being busy this weekend in Los Angeles.
"We can't sit still," he said. "We've got to move forward here. We're certainly not in the position to sit still, that's for sure. Look at our past record -- we have a lot of work to do."
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Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer