With the expiration of his contract and the four-game exit from Qualifying Round of the playoffs, Dale Tallon is no longer the general manager of the Florida Panthers. That means the search is underway to find the replacement.
There was early word that the Panthers will be looking for someone outside of the organization to fill the role. The new general manager definitely has their work cut out for them. They walk into a franchise that as continuously been seen as promising only to wind up disappointing in the end.
Why Tallon is Gone
After a decade-long relationship, it isn’t necessarily a surprise that Tallon’s contract was not renewed. The Panthers came into the 2019-20 season with higher expectations than at any point in recent memory.
This is in part due to a talented core, the addition of Joel Quenneville behind the bench, and the huge free agent signing of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Sure, there weren’t exactly Stanley Cup expectations, but there was more to be had than a Qualifying Round exit.
With names like Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Hoffman, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, and the aforementioned Bobrovsky, the Panthers clearly have a talented group to work with. The disappointing end means that the new general manager has to figure out how to get more out of this group.
Given that Tallon has been out the door less than a week, it is speculation to this point as to who the team may be looking into. The early indication, despite rumors to the contrary, is that special advisor Roberto Luongo is not being considered for the role.
Luongo played with the team for years and after his recent retirement, he became a special advisor to Tallon. It is expected that he will be brought back in the same role but that the team is not considering him to fill the vacancy left by Tallon.
So, who does that leave? An experienced hand is the most likely solution given the amount of talent already in place.
The situation in Arizona got a bit complicated heading into the bubble. Chayka, who had negotiated an extension in 2019, was suddenly a free agent after building the Coyotes into a talented young group with cap space.
He put in the work to get the Coyotes back into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2012, but his departure from Arizona leaves some question. The talents as a general manager are clearly there, but there may be a concern given the way that he left his former position.
Mellanby is an interesting candidate given that he spent eight seasons playing for the Panthers, the longest single-team stint in his career. In his 552 games, he tallied 157 goals and 355 points over that time.
Mellanby has been the assistant general manager in Montreal since 2014, serving as the director of player personnel prior to that. The team has actually received permission to speak to him, indicating that there is at least peripheral interest.
The New Jersey Devils recently fired Shero, who has a Stanley Cup on his resume thanks to the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils added a lot of talent to the roster during Shero’s tenure both through the draft as well as trades. This includes names like PK Subban, Nico Hischier, and Jack Hughes.
Shero is perhaps best known for the Taylor Hall trade. Dealing defenseman Adam Larsson to Edmonton, Shero acquired the highly touted Hall, who would go on to win the Hart Trophy during his tenure in New Jersey. Ultimately, Hall would be dealt to Arizona not long before Shero found his way out the door.
Shero’s experience is what makes him such an interesting candidate. He built the roster that not only won a Stanley Cup in 2009 but was largely intact when the Penguins won back-to-back titles nearly a decade later.
It is speculated that the team is also potentially interested in Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Laurence Gilman, New York Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury, and former LA Kings assistant GM Michael Futa.
The Road Ahead
Whoever takes over the reins in South Florida isn’t starting from scratch, but there is work to be done. The defense is thin and there are times where the scoring is top-heavy. If Bobrovsky can play as he had previously in Columbus, it could mean the difference in getting the Panthers to become a legitimate playoff team once again.