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NHL Rumours: Florida Panthers Defenceman Could Hit Market

NHL Rumours

It’s time for another batch of NHL rumours to get you ready for the weekend. Tonight the 2024 Stanley Cup Finals begin as the Florida Panthers are facing off against the Edmonton Oilers. However, the action off the ice might be just as exciting as what may take place on the ice. Panthers General Manager Bill Zito is on a tight timeline to get a number of signings done. A seven-game series could make the run into the offseason an even smaller one. Today’s NHL rumours takes a look at what the Florida Panthers might do with one of their key defenders this free agency period.

All NHL rumours come from the original source and are subject to change.

NHL Rumours

Florida Panthers Defender May Hit Free Agency

Rumour: TSN and The Athletic insider Pierre LeBrun was on SportsCentre with Jay Onrait discussed the future of defenceman Brandon Montour with the Panthers.

Analysis: Zito has a lot on his plate this coming offseason when it comes to keeping this group together. Game 7 scheduled for June 24 could make things even tighter with the draft and free agency soon after. Both Sam Reinhart and Montour have played a big hand in Florida’s second straight Stanley Cup Final appearance. The duo will both be unrestricted free agents on July 1. However, Zito wants to do everything he can to keep the core together.

We’ve previously talked about Reinhart’s status in other editions of NHL rumours. It seems that the 57-goal forward wants to stay with the Panthers. Reinhart has a good relationship with Zito and it seems the two sides want to get together on a contract. Montour has been a value deal at $3.5 million, but now he’s looking to secure a nice raise.

One, but Not Both

LeBrun mentioned that a deal for Reinhart probably gets done. In contrast, a contract for Montour seems a bit more unlikely. It looks like Zito will want to keep the forward and Montour probably hits the open market this offseason. LeBrun goes on to say that it’s probably too hard to get both players to stay. Florida is a tax-free state, but there’s only so much money that can go around under the projected $87.7 million league salary cap.

Let’s keep in mind that Matthew Tkachuk makes $10 million per season along with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. Selke Trophy winner Aleksander Barkov makes $9.5 million for the club. The hockey insider said that Zito has pulled rabbits out of his hat before, but this might be too much of an impossible mission to keep both players.

Only So Much to Go Around

There are a number of players that will be UFAs on July 1 like Vladimir Tarasenko, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Kyle Okposo among others. Zito could elect to pass on re-signing these players come July 1. This would give him some more money to play with this offseason. The rising salary cap in the next few seasons might be able to help as well.

However, we also have to think about the future. Anton Lundell is a restricted free agent and is definitely due a raise this summer. The Panthers also have to think about the upcoming Aaron Ekblad contract. Florida knows the blueliner will probably be asking for more than his $7.5 million salary when his deal comes up at the end of the 2024-25 season.

Montour could give a discount to a team that took a chance on him. However, the 30-year-old will probably have a number of suitors looking to sign him if he gets to the open market. Mountour could probably get more from teams desperately trying to land a top-pair defenceman. Top-four defenders don’t hit the open market very often and the Ohsweken, Ontario native probably wants to score a massive contract with him being 30. Don’t count out the Panthers in the Montour race, but this series could be his last games with the team.

Main photo by: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports


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