Fans of the Florida Panthers have been promised change for years. It took Dale Tallon a little more than a month to shuffle the deck. Career Panthers Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell have been traded to the Boston Bruins, in exchange for veteran defenseman Dennis Wideman and the 15th overall pick in Friday’s draft, along with the B’s 3rd round pick in 2011.
Outstanding. Yes, Horton is a goal scorer, something the Panthers dearly cherish. But his work ethic has been questioned before. He’d show flashes of potential, only to come up agonizingly short on so many occasions. He was a 3rd overall pick in 2003, and at times played like it. Others, he just didn’t look like he cared anymore. To be fair, 6 years sans playoffs will do that (see Jay Bouwmeester). The Panthers have had five, f-i-v-e, head coaches since Horton was drafted in ’03. But there’s a difference between being frustrated with an organization and wanting to be a part of the solution, and simply saying “Get me outta here.” Horton went with the latter. He asked new GM Dale Tallon for a trade, and Tallon was all too willing to oblige. A change of scenery could be good for Horton, though. He just seemed to be frustrated to the point of no return with Florida. As for Gregory Campbell, he was always a good worker and I don’t think anyone questioned his loyalty. He, too, was a draftee of Florida, in the 3rd round of 2002. But “Soup” took a giant step backwards last year, regressing from a 13 goal – 19 assist ’08-’09 campaign, to just 2G – 15A last season.
In return, Tallon was able to pick up an extremely vital 1st round, 15th overall pick from Boston. The Cats now have five, f-i-v-e, picks in
the first two rounds of the draft. The theory is that drafting can be a lottery. Who knows who will be a “bust,” who will be a “sleeper,” so why not buy as many tickets for the raffle that you can? Five picks through two rounds certainly increases the odds of finding success. Adding Dennis Wideman to an already intriguing blue line makes this deal much even more interesting. At this point, the Panthers already have Keith Ballard, Brian McCabe, Dmitry Kulikov, Bryan Allen, and now Dennis Wideman. Prospects Jason Garrison and Keaton Ellerby served time with the Panthers towards the end of last season, and look ready to make the jump to a full-time spot. Throw in the potential 3rd overall pick of Cam Fowler or Erik Gudbranson, and you have an intense competition for 6 starting spots. Competition breeds success.
Tallon certainly isn’t done yet. He has a multitude of draft picks with which he could turn into NHL bodies or to stockpile developing talent with. Lord knows this deal does nothing to solve the Panthers inept offense of last season. But good, solid teams are built from the crease out. Assuming Tomas Vokoun remains a Panther, Florida has one of the best in the league in its crease. With the addition of Wideman and possibly Fowler\Gudbranson, the Cats will have a deep blue line. Panther fans can only hope that Tallon has an idea of where he will find scoring, be it in the draft or in the market. But as for the first month of the Tallon era… so far, so good.