Panthers May Need to Make Drastic Moves to Obtain Cap Space

The Florida Panthers ended their historic season on an awful note. After grabbing the Presidents’ Trophy and finishing with their best regular season in franchise history, they were swept by their cross-state rivals in the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in the second round of this past postseason.

This past trade deadline, general manager Bill Zito decided to go all-in for this past season by making some blockbuster trades. This includes nabbing forward Claude Giroux, defenseman Ben Chiarot and defenseman Robert Hagg. While they managed to get some salary retained on those contracts, it still puts Florida in a bind financially. In addition, they do not have a first round pick for the next few years as they sent them away to acquire said pieces. And considering the way the season ended, it may force them to make moves that some fans and even ownership might not be pleased with to shore up some extra dollars.

Is There Enough Money to Get the Wash Done?

The Panthers’ current cap hit going into free agency is just under $80 million with about $3 million to work with in cap space. However, that is not enough money to tackle their laundry list of unrestricted free agents that includes forwards Mason Marchment and Noel Acciari. This also includes their one restricted free agent forward in Eetu Luostarinen, who made a noticeable impact near the end of the season.

In addition, they have some key pieces going into next season that are on the last year of their current contracts, such as forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weeger and defenseman Radko Gudas. Of course, they are also being weighed down by the buyout of former defenseman, now free agent, Keith Yandle’s contract with a dead cap carry of over $5 million. In addition, the captain Aleksander Barkov starts his new deal at $10 million a year next season.

Author: Lucy Green