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Florida Panthers Trade Targets: All in Approach to Final Stretch

As the regular season looms to an end and with the postseason in sight, the Florida Panthers have their eyes set on possible trade targets. The team has looked convincing enough to make a deep run in the playoffs, but General Managers can never be too relaxed. Without many appealing draft picks to negotiate with, Bill Zito and his team must address any possibility when looking for trade acquisitions. Whether that means giving up a player with great potential, such as Anton Lundell, or simply playing the long game and handing out future draft picks, remains unknown.

Florida Panthers trade targets

Wants and Needs

There is no clear-cut recipe for success nor shortcuts to hoist Lord Stanley. Coaches and GMs may believe they have it all planned out, but hockey is as unpredictable as any other sport. Looking over the Panthers lineup there are not many areas desperate for changes and twitches. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. Could the third line score in bigger chunks? Would certain players thrive or perform better by rotating their lines? The answer is yes, probably. However, it all comes at a cost and that is where the Cats enter a dilemma.

Of course, the Panthers would love to add some more firepower across their forward lines. The team in Sunrise would be ecstatic over the addition of a big defenceman who can produce on both sides of the ice. Is it worth the asking price, though? Some recent experiences may lead the Panthers to a more conservative approach. Not long ago they went all in on trades for Claude Giroux and Ben Chiarot and those rental deals did not work out as expected. Owen Tippett was traded away and is now thriving under John Tortorella in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, neither Giroux nor Chiarot played more than 20 games for the Cats.

Despite these past traumas, the Florida Panthers should not be too cautious, either. Some big names are on the market heading to March’s trade deadline and the Cats could make great use of them. The Florida Panthers trade targets include a Calgary Flame, and Bill Zito is known for making good business with that organization. Noah Hanifin is one of the top candidates to take off from Alberta and would probably head over the 49th parallel. Boston and Florida are considered the main destinations for the player born in the Athens of America. The defensive side has not brought on many, if any, headaches for the Cats. However, adding another talented player to go along Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour and Gustav Forsling, cannot be too bad.

Homecoming fit for a Duke?

Sequels are never good, or so they say. However, when considering a possible return to South Florida from Anthony Duclair common sayings may not move the needle. Duclair’s departure towards San Jose left a sour taste in most Panthers fans’ mouths. Not many players connected with the fanbase the way the Duke did. His style of play and charisma brought the arena to its feet every time he stepped on the ice. Whenever he touched the puck and paced through opponents, the atmosphere was electric. With the Sharks drowning at the bottom of the standings, the Panthers could offer a lifeline for Duclair. And with his addition, the second or third line could take a step for the better, adding unravelled speed to a sharpshooter’s unit.

If the Panthers are serious about their championship window, they will need all hands on deck.  The Panthers are a wagon currently. Postseason is a different beast, and they know it. Whether they stick with their current roster or part ways with some pieces, the Sunrise franchise cannot afford any passengers.

The Cup Today, Cap Space tomorrow

Adding star players sounds great on paper, but there is a reason All-Star teams only reunite one weekend a year. The cap space police is always on patrol and the Panthers are not too relaxed on that matter. Their best player this season, Sam Reinhart, is on a contract year and for every goal he scores fans celebrate and the organization spares some more loose change. Forsling and Montour are also due to become UFAs this next offseason and Carter Verhaeghe will be too in 2025. Florida’s no-tax state can be beneficial and come in handy, but it cannot solve every issue.

The Florida Panthers trade targets could refer to an “aim for the moon” type strategy. If the Panthers go after big additions, will they be able to keep them on board for the long run? Or will they be rentals like Giroux and Chiarot were in the 21-22 season? Maybe it was the President’s Trophy curse. Or maybe that is what the Panthers would like to tell themselves.

For the time being, the Cats control their own destiny and can play their cards any given way. The truth will be unknown until, at least, April. Meanwhile, the Panthers are on the hunt for first place in the NHL, whether that is a good thing or not. Winning cannot do any harm. Will the 21-22 postseason’s collapse dim their approach to the trade deadline? This team has many differences from the one coached by Andrew Brunette. However, the only difference the fans care for will lie in whether they hoist the cup, or not, when it is all said and done.

Main Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports


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