The Florida Panthers made their first big splash of the offseason just weeks after being eliminated from the 2016 postseason, when they acquired a second round pick in 2016 (the 33rd overall selection) and forward prospect Jared McCann for blue liner Erik Gudbranson.
They then followed that move up a few weeks later with another big splash, dealing Marc Savard’s contract and a second round pick in 2018 to the New Jersey Devils for AHL forwards Paul Thompson and Graham Black.
Both moves freed up over $7 million in cap space, putting the Atlantic Division club as estimated $2 million below the projected salary floor for the 2016-17 season (per General Fanager) – but that cleared money will likely be put to good use soon.
Per George Richards of the Miami Herald, the Panthers are expected to get something worked out with veteran defenseman Brian Campbell to return for at least another season with the club – and they’re also expected to seek out another defenseman on the free agent market or via a trade.
The Panthers had one of the team’s best seasons in 2015-16, making the postseason for the first time since 2012 and finishing the season 1st in the Atlantic. The club put up 103 points in the regular season, breaching the 100-point mark for the first time in franchise history – and now, with the expectation that they’ll be bringing back Campbell and more blue line help, it seems they could be consistently competitive moving forward.