So a couple of days ago it came out that the Florida Panthers were seeking public funds to help keep the team viable. The team claims to be losing over $20 million dollars a year. Henry Fialkov from the Sun-Sentinal is now reporting that Panthers owner Vinnie Viola has given General Manager Dale Tallon the authority to spend to the salary cap on player salaries.
According to Tallon:
“They’ve given me an open [wallet]. I’m pumped up…We can do hockey deals now, what the best deal is as far as hockey is considered.”
For fans of the Florida Panthers, this news has to be music to their ears. When a team is allowed to focus on strickly players and not on whether or not they can afford such players, it opens up new avenues. No longer does the team have to be a seller at the trade deadline. They can look at trades that will add quality players, even if that player has salary left on his contract that was previously out of the team budget.
The have some good young players currently playing in the NHL led by Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson and Aleksander Barkov. Tallon now has the ability to build around this core by recruiting veteran players to Florida to compliment this youth.
Fialkov recently suggested that the Panthers should look into pending free agent Ryan Miller. He said:
Panthers goalie Tim Thomas turns 40 on April 15 and has already been hurt three times. Scott Clemmensen is 36 and in final year of contract. Clearly, young goalie Jacob Markstrom isn’t ready yet, so if Miller is available this July then why not spend Mr. Viola’s hard-earned money on a proven 33-year-old goalie with a 280-182-55 record and 2.59 GAA on a bad team?
Who knows if the Panthers have any interest in Ryan Miller, but now they can at least have the debate about whether or not signing him would be a good fit for their organization. Miller will demand a high salary if he hits the open market, but now that Tallon has the ability to spend money, he can at least throw his hat in the ring to try and court such a player.
It will be interesting to watch the Panthers moving forward toward the trade deadline and watch what type of deals they make. The Panthers are under the cap right now and have about $17 million coming off the books at the end of the year. Tallon has to be smiling ear to ear today with his new-found freedom.