Following the All-Star break, the Panthers are…well, they’re just average. The Cats sit right at .500, with 22 wins and 22 losses. They have scored 131 goals and given up 131 goals. It’s hard to say that this team is great, yet they are not bad. At times, they’ve shown some character. Ahhhhhh, character…more on that later. They put together three wins in a row, only to lose three in over-time in a row. While being at the bottom of the Southeast, they sit just 8 points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. With a little less than a month left in the (February 28th) trade dead-line, the next couple of weeks are crucial. They’ll return to a road schedule, facing two teams that trail them (that they need to hold off), Toronto and New Jersey, and a team just in front of them (the Habs) that they need to gain on. Six potential points, before returning to a two week, five game home-stand. Did I say crucial?!
Now, enter Dale Tallon and his blueprint for success! In the blueprint…”execute smart trades and negotiations.” Did this just get more interesting?! Trade deadline quickly approaching, playoff contention in sight, and contenders or pretenders status looming. It’s time to find out what this team is about. Just how much character do they have?! First in the blueprint, Tallon says he is looking for a team with core traits of character, skill, size, speed, and more character!
So, depending on the team’s standing in about two weeks, important decisions will need to be made. Do the Cats become the first team in NHL history to go a decade without making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and start working on the blueprint to build a team of Tallon’s standards (and become sellers)? Or, do they find themselves in a place to start building now, with a chance to make a run for the cup? Panther’s fans should find themselves on the edge of their seats the next two weeks (while the team may become buyers).
Goalie, Tomas Vokoun finds himself in the middle of the mix. The Cats say they would like to extend his contract, while he is a pending free agent. As a Panthers fan, I can’t say I have much hope with the team’s history. We were promised that (former goalies) John Vanbeisbrouck and Roberto Luongo were the future of the Cats. Yeah, where’s my refund for those jerseys?
Veterans like McCabe, Stillman, and Dvorak could be worth a trade for the future. While currently at average, there seems to be a lot of upside potential for this team. With a few wins and a few good pick ups before the trade deadline, this team could go far. So, Deal or No-Deal?!