Latest on the Panthers and Red Wings – April 4, 2017
Another look at what the offseason could hold for the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings in your NHL rumor mill.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Craig Davis recently noted there are several issues the Florida Panthers must address in the offseason following this disappointing campaign. Apart from possible shakeups behind the bench and in the front office, Davis wondered if 45-year-old veteran winger Jaromir Jagr will return? If not, who replaces him on their top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau? He also wondered how they’ll shore up a defense that generated offense from the blueline but struggled to keep the puck out of their own zone.
Davis’ colleague Harvey Fialkov last night reported Jagr, a pending unrestricted free agent, hopes to return with the Panthers. “I love it here, any minute I was here,” Jagr continued. “The organization was so good to me. They gave me a chance. They traded for me. They gave me a great opportunity. I love it. I play with very good and talented players the last few years here. I love it. I love it here and nothing has changed.” Panthers general manager and interim coach Tom Rowe and president of hockey operations Dale Tallon will discuss Jagr’s future after this season ends.
MIAMI HERALD: George Richards reports Rowe would like to return as head coach on a full-time basis next season. However, “numerous sources” say Rowe’s tenure as coach will end after this season. “With three years remaining and the trust and friendship of ownership, Rowe will be offered a position within the front office,” writes Richards. However, it’s unclear who will take over the GM’s role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Interesting that Rowe might not be returning to what was previously his full-time role as general manager. He took over that job last summer when Tallon was kicked upstairs into hockey ops, but he gave up those duties to Tallon and two others when he took over as interim coach.
The club’s disappointing performance this season after winning the Atlantic Division crown a year ago, as well as the hasty early-season firing of former coach Gerard Gallant, may be casting some doubt over Rowe’s management abilities. Whoever takes over as general manager will have to not only decide if they’re bringing back Jagr on another one-year contract but also how they’ll bolster their porous blueline.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen recently offered up a five-step plan to get the Detroit Red Wings back on track. Finding a premium defenseman is the top priority. Kevin Shattenkirk is the best bet via free agency but Allen doubts he’ll sign with the Wings. He suggests pursuing one via trade, though that could prove an expensive undertaking.
Allen also recommends shedding the salaries of some aging or disappoint veterans, such as Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million per season), Justin Abdelkader ($4.25 million) or Gustav Nyquist to provide salary-cap flexibility. He also advocates adding another scorer, perhaps bringing back Thomas Vanek via free agency on a short-term deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I anticipate Red Wings GM Ken Holland could target teams that risk losing a quality defenseman via the June expansion draft, such as the Anaheim Ducks or Minnesota Wild, in the trade market. It’ll be very difficult to move the contracts of players such as Kronwall, Abdelkader or Nyquist unless Holland either picks up part of their annual cap hit or agrees to bundle a top prospect into the deal. Vanek expressed interest in returning to the Wings, but maybe Holland will look at younger options via trade or free agency.