The Panthers announced on Friday night that they acquired forwards Paul Thompson and Graham Black from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the contract of Marc Savard and the Panthers’ 2018 2nd-round draft pick.
The reasoning behind this trade was essentially so the Panthers could free themselves of Marc Savard’s contract which they acquired as part of the Reilly Smith deal with Boston last July. Savard, who officially retired in March, hasn’t played since the 2010-11 season as a result of post-concussion syndrome following a hit by Matt Hunwick. Savard has one season left on his contract with a cap hit of just over $4 million and the Devils are using it as a way of reaching the cap floor which they currently sit below.
Since the end of the season, the Panthers have cleared about $7 million in cap space thanks to some smart and efficient work by management which includes the new GM, Tom Rowe, and assistant GMs, Eric Joyce and Steve Werier. We’ve been told that the Panthers are likely target a right-handed defenseman at the very least, and someone like Tyson Barrie, who the Avalanche are rumored to be interested in moving, could be of interest to Florida this off-season. Some other options (both RFAs and UFAs) include Sami Vatanen, Jason Demers, Jacob Trouba, Patrick Wiercioch, Keith Yandle (LD), and Dan Hamhuis (LD).
The Panthers are also said to be on the lookout for a back-up goaltender with Al Montoya potentially testing the UFA market come July 1st, and another forward could be on the menu if it fits into the team’s budget. Florida also now has more flexibility for re-signing RFA Vincent Trocheck in addition to extensions Aaron Ekblad and Reilly Smith who will both be up for new contracts come the end of next season.
The two players the Panthers got back in this trade are Paul Thompson, a 27-year old right-winger, and Graham Black, a 23-year old center. Considering his age and numbers, Thompson isn’t expected to much more than an injury call-up for the Panthers while Black is still relatively young and could develop into bottom-6 option if he reaches his ceiling. Thompson recorded 13 goals and 22 assists in 56 AHL games last season after a 33-goal season in 2014-15, while Black tallied 7 goals and 2 assists in 50 AHL games last year.