Panthers ready to trade and add free agents this week

While the Panthers’ front-office honchos flew home Sunday morning feeling content after adding 10 building blocks, there is still more work to do.

With just 10 signed players on the active roster and the free-agency period starting Friday, the Panthers, who have about $26 million to shop for nine players, are trying to make some early-week trades with cash-strapped teams looking to shed payroll.

In addition to their 10 teenage draft picks, the Panthers already made a huge move that should pay immediate dividends by persuading 32-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell to waive his no-trade clause with the Blackhawks on Friday night to join a franchise in flux.

“This is a very important week for us,” Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon said. “[We went through] a lot of pain last year to get ourselves in this position. We earned the right now to do what we need to do to get this franchise turned around.

“These moves we’re doing now will help us sell guys to come on July 1.”

Assistant GM Mike Santos echoes Tallon’s notion that Campbell’s decision to come to Florida with his $35.7 million price tag could turn the two-time All-Star into a Pied Piper for other coveted free agents.

“What’s really important in this whole thing is you now see players want to play for the Panthers,” Santos said. “It started to happen last year; we’re seeing it here at the draft that Florida has become a destination not only because [of the sunshine], but because they think we can win.”

Because of the anticipated re-signing of Panthers restricted free-agent forwards Mike Santorelli and Shawn Matthias, they’ll be looking to add four forwards, two defensemen and a goalie, unless they re-sign Tomas Vokoun this week. Tallon said that talking to the free-agent goalie is on his priority list.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/florida-panthers/fl-florida-panthers-nhl-draft-0627-20110626,0,4612360.story


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