Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers make moves and talk to Jagr as free agency opens Saturday

Florida left wing Jussi Jokinen goes for the puck against Calgary last season.
Florida left wing Jussi Jokinen goes for the puck against Calgary last season. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

So far this offseason, the Panthers’ roster has seen mostly subtractions.

Starting at noon Saturday, general manager Dale Tallon is expected to make some additions to his 2017-18 roster when the free agency signing period opens.

Florida’s roster cuts started last week when leading goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault was picked up by Vegas in the expansion draft and, in turn, the Panthers sent Reilly Smith and his $25 million contract to the Golden Knights.

On Friday, in anticipation of Saturday’s signings, the Panthers put veteran winger Jussi Jokinen on waivers with the intention of buying out the final year of his contract.

The Panthers saved over $1 million in cash and close to $3 million in cap space by jettisoning Jokinen, who will count as $1.3 million of salary against the cap in each of the next two seasons.

According to capfriendly .com, Florida is close to $23 million under next year’s salary cap with free agents — including restricted free agent defensemen Mark Pysyk and Alex Petrovic — still to sign.

As for additions to the roster, Jaromir Jagr is still out there, with a source within the Panthers saying team management and the new coaching staff wants the 45-year-old forward back but at a reduction in salary from last year’s $4 million.

Tallon said Thursday night at a team event at BB&T Center that he continues to speak with Jagr’s agent and “spoke with him today.”

jagr
Florida Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr skates during warmups before the start of an NHL hockey game against Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on February 9, 2017. David Santiago dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

The Panthers are expected to sign a couple of wingers soon after the league opens for business.

If Florida is looking to spend some money, Montreal’s Alexander Radulov is the top free agent forward available. Radulov made almost $6 million last season and scored 18 goals and had 54 points for the Canadiens.

Former Florida prospect Evgeni Dadonov is expected to find his way back to the Panthers after spending the past five seasons in the KHL, agreeing to a three-year deal.

Dadonov, 28, scored 10 goals in 55 games with Florida over the course of three seasons from 2009-12. Dadonov scored 30 goals for St. Petersburg last season and had been drawing interest from a number of NHL teams — including his old one.

If the Panthers are looking for bargains, there’s always Nail Yakupov, Drew Stafford, Radim Vrbata and Sam Gagner on the market if they don’t re-sign with their current teams before noon.

Last year, Florida traded for the rights to Keith Yandle before signing him to a long-term deal. On July 1 last year, the Panthers added goalie James Reimer as well as Marchessault and forward Colton Sceviour.

Florida added defenseman Jason Demers the following day.

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