When the Panthers take the ice Thursday against Washington, it could be the last home game for a number of players who have spent varying degrees of time in South Florida.
With the NHL’s trade deadline less than a week away, the Panthers could undergo another massive roster overhaul.
For a team miles out of a playoff spot, that may not be a bad thing.
Yet general manager Dale Tallon hasn’t given off the vibe of someone planning a major fire sale.
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Do the Panthers have some assets available for the right price? Sure. Will the Panthers have a complete veteran purge? Probably not.
“We’re going to do what’s best for the Panthers to build a championship team,” Tallon said during the recent Olympic break. “We’re not blowing this thing up. If we can sell some assets to get better, we’ll do that. It depends what happens in the next few weeks. We’ll be aggressive either way.”
Although Tallon and and the Panthers have moved NHL players for prospects and draft picks in the past, they may not do that as much as in years past despite a similar spot in the standings.
Coach Peter Horachek said he hopes the Panthers don’t ship off his key players with only draft picks returning.
He has a vested interest in this.
As the interim coach, Horachek knows the more wins that come in the final 24 games, the better his chances of returning next year are.
“I don’t really want any draft picks. They don’t do me any good,” Horachek said. “I want to win these games, I want the guys to care about winning these games. I want the guys to put it on the line whether we have an opportunity or mathematically out. I want to make sure we care about winning these games.”
Of Florida’s biggest ‘available’ pieces, Tallon he had interest in keeping all of them. Goalie Tim Thomas, winger Brad Boyes and defenseman Tom Gilbert all came to Florida during training camp on try-outs and signed one-year contracts.
Tallon said all three deserve to stick around if they so wish.
“Performance is important and desire [to stay] is as well,” Tallon said, adding that Thomas — perhaps Florida’s biggest trade chip since Jay Bouwmeester — has expressed an interest to return next year.
“Those guys have had good years and deserve the chance to stay. … I’m happy with the way they’ve played, happy with their professionalism.”
Other free agents the Panthers could offer other teams include center Marcel Goc, defenseman Mike Weaver and restricted free agent Dmitry Kulikov.
When the Panthers return to the BB&T Center next Friday, they could look drastically different than they do on Thursday.
“Management is going to look to do what they think is right long-term,” Horachek said.
Horachek spent a big portion of Wednesday’s practice working on Florida’s woeful power play.
The Panthers have scored on 9 percent of their power play chances this year; the NHL record for worst power play percentage belongs to the 1997-98 Lightning which scored on 9.35 percent of its chances.
The franchise record for power play futility is a comparatively robust 13 percent (2000-01).
“I don’t know the stat, won’t look it up and don’t care about it,’’ Horachek said. “Someone telling me a stat doesn’t change anything.”
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Florida is also on pace to obliterate its franchise record for fewest power play goals.
The Panthers have scored 17 power play goals in 58 games this year; last year, despite playing just 48 games, the Panthers had 29. Florida is on track to score 24 this year. Florida’s fewest power play goals in a full season: 35 (2010-11).
“It would certainly generate some confidence and get things jumping,” Horachek said.