Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers looking for help but not selling as trade deadline approaches

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, center, is joined by former team CEO and president Rory Babich, left, and general manager Dale Tallon on March 5, 2014, days after Luongo came back to Florida in a deal with Vancouver.
Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, center, is joined by former team CEO and president Rory Babich, left, and general manager Dale Tallon on March 5, 2014, days after Luongo came back to Florida in a deal with Vancouver. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Florida Panthers will board their charter jet and leave Fort Lauderdale around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

They may have a new teammate or two upon arrival in Philadelphia.

The NHL’s annual trade deadline comes at 3 on Wednesday with the Panthers saying they are looking for “anyone who makes our team better” while not tipping their hand on who, exactly, that may be.

Tom Rowe, the team’s general manager and interim coach, will be on that Philadelphia-bound flight — which has Wifi so everyone stays informed — when the deadline comes.

When Rowe was named coach in November, he said he was turning over the day-to-day operations of his GM job to assistants Eric Joyce and Steve Werier as well as former GM Dale Tallon who now holds the title of president of hockey operations.

All four talk daily about who is out there, what the Panthers are looking for and what they’re willing to pay for it.

“Dale’s handling all that right now and if it gets to the point where something gets serious, I’m sure we’ll talk,” Rowe said.

“I’m not real concerned with it to be honest. I like the group we have, I think we can win with the group we’ve got.”

Florida, which goes into Tuesday’s game against Carolina a few points back of the playoffs after a three-game losing streak, may not end up being buyers come Wednesday afternoon.

By being in the postseason hunt, they won’t be sellers either.

“Nothing much is going on, Dale’s working the phones and doing everything he can do but it’s real quiet,” Rowe said.

“Dale has gathered all the information, is making all the calls to the GMs around the league, talking to our scouts in town. It’s a group effort but Dale’s the guy leading the charge.”

Florida was active around the trade deadline last year getting two players (Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell) who ended up to be rentals and one (Jakub Kindl) whom the team had contractual control over this season.

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What the Panthers do this deadline is anyone’s guess. With so many teams still in the playoff race, prices are high to try and get some help from somewhere else.

Rowe said Tuesday he didn’t expect the Panthers to unload much more than draft picks.

“We like this group a lot,” he said. “We’re not looking to move a body off the roster just looking for some depth. If it’s a draft pick, it’s a draft pick. This group can get it done and they have proven that.”

▪ Rookie Denis Malgin was back in the lineup Tuesday after being recalled from the minors over the weekend.

Malgin centered Florida’s third line with Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Marchessault; Michael Sgarbossa slid down to the fourth line with Shawn Thornton out of the rotation for the first time since Jan. 7.

Thornton had played in 22 consecutive games. Malgin scored four goals with eight points in 39 games with the Panthers before being sent down.

“Now my goal is to stay here as long as possible,” said Malgin, who made the Panthers out of training camp after a strong summer.

“It was good for me, the AHL Was a new experience for me and I played a lot, got back to my hockey [game]. I played lots of minutes, 5-on-5, power play ... I worked on everything to get my confidence back.”

Tuesday: Hurricanes at Panthers

When/where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640, WMYM 990.

Series: Carolina leads 59-43-11.

Scouting report: This is the first time Florida and Carolina have played since the Panthers lost 3-2 in Raleigh on Nov. 27 and fired coach Gerard Gallant after his postgame media session. Florida is 17-13-9 since. Carolina has lost six of its past seven.

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