It's Deadline Day, and the Panthers looking to Sign UFA?

With the trade deadline today at 3 p.m., Panthers General Manager Rick Dudley spent most of Monday on the phone.

“Expect us to add a player of the veteran variety,” Dudley said. “I won’t say if it’s by a trade or any other way, but we think we’re close to acquiring the right type of guy that can help the atmosphere in the dressing room. I would say I’m 95 percent sure we will add this one player without having to delete anybody.”

It would not be surprising if Dudley is referring to 36-year-old defenseman and unsigned free agent Igor Kravchuk. Dudley talked with Kravchuk’s agent, Scott Norton, last summer, but Dudley opted to pass on Kravchuk, and he never found work.

But Dudley and coach Mike Keenan know Kravchuk well. Dudley managed him in Ottawa, and Keenan coached him with Chicago and St. Louis.

Keenan has felt all season that acquiring the right type of veteran could help accelerate the growth process of the youngest team in the league. Dudley and Keenan have felt Kravchuk could be a strong character influence in the dressing room.

Kravchuk, who returned to his native Russia when he wasn’t signed, has spent 13 years in the NHL with Chicago, Edmonton, St. Louis, Ottawa and Calgary. He scored 64 goals and 273 points in 692 games and had 26 points in 78 games with the Flames last season.

As far as other moves, Dudley said, “It’s less than 50 percent that we’ll lose any players.”

Sources say Dudley has been trying to trade Valeri Bure, Igor Ulanov and Stephane Matteau.

“We like the team and we’re not going to make a major overhaul,” Dudley said. “We’ve established what we think is the core of our hockey club, and there are a number of people that almost for sure aren’t going anywhere.”

www.sun-sentinal.com/sports/panthers

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Well it doesn’t sound like Dudly is close to unloading Bure or Ulanov at all. But I think Dudly could be doing much more productive things today then trying to sign Kravchuck. I mean if he doesn’t have a contract yet, the other teams musn’t be that interested in him, so can’t it wait till after the deadline?


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