Panthers’ UFAs not receiving offers, youth movement to take over

At a media-only session today, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon announced that none of the team’s 7 UFAs (unrestricted free-agents) would be offered contracts for the upcoming 2015-16 season. The seven players who are currently UFAs are Tomas Kopecky, Scottie Upshall, Dan Ellis, Dany Heatley, Shane O’Brien, Bobby Butler, and Greg Zanon.

The Panthers acquired Tomas Kopecky just before the start of free-agency on June 27, 2011 from the Blackhawks in exchange for a 7th-round pick in the 2012 Draft. He would go on to tie his career-high of 15 goals that season while helping the Panthers clinch their first playoff berth in 12 years. When free-agency began on July 1, 2011, Scottie Upshall signed a 4-year, $14 million contract with the Panthers, and during that time, he served as an assistant captain for 2 years and scored 29 goals, 15 of which were scored during the 2013-14 season. Goaltender Dan Ellis was acquired from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Tim Thomas  on March 5, 2014 just before the trade deadline. He played just 14 games in relief for the Panthers, with his 8 best starts coming in the absence of Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya this past season when both were lost due to injuries.

Dany Heatley was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on February 28th of this year in exchange for Tomas Fleischmann and a 3rd-round pick in the 2015 Draft. He played in 18 games with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in San Antonio putting up 13 points and none in three playoff games. Shane O’Brien was invited to the Panthers training camp just prior to this past season and signed a one-year, two-way contract soon after. He played just 9 games this season and tallied one point while a providing sub par defensive game. Bobby Butler was acquired from the Nashville Predators in June 14, 2013 in exchange for defenseman TJ Brennan, and since then, he’s been a mainstay in the top-6 for the San Antonio Rampage. While serving as assistant captain for the Rampage, he scored a career-high 27 goals this past season before having a season-ending Achilles injury in early April. Greg Zanon was signed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Panthers on July 4, 2014 and served as the captain of the Rampage last season while tallying 26 points in 74 games for his second-highest career point total.

Each of these players are expected to become free-agents when the market opens on July 1st, however their negotiating rights can be traded prior to that date if the Panthers wish to do so.

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