Panthers Keep Booth, Stop Short at Forward

So what else is new?

After a fire sale of sorts, the Panthers made some good moves in free agency yesterday.  But they also acknowledged they won't be going after a flashy free agent forward, which is disappointing.

Florida re-signed top-scoring priority forward David Booth (6 years, $25 million-ish), which helps ensure some life on offense.  They also retained forward Radek Dvorak and defenseman Ville Koistinen, but couldn't come to contract terms with defenseman Jordan Leopold, whose rights they received from Calgary in trade for those of Jay Bouwmeester. They lost promising backup goalie Craig Anderson to Colorado, though replacing him with the very solid Scott Clemmensen out of New Jersey helped lessen the sting.

Not a bad day, on the whole.

But with the $6-7 million Bouwmeester would have received had he stayed, and the $3 million Florida saved by not re-signing Nick Boynton, Panthers brass should have gone after a stellar front-line scorer. 

It's "safe to say" they will not, according to Assistant GM Randy Sexton.

"I'm not sure you ever have enough scoring, but we're real comfortable with our top three lines," he told the Sun-Sentinel. "Our top six of Booth, Weiss, Frolik, Stillman, Reinprecht, Horton, we think those guys can score. ...We're very comfortable offensively with those top six. I don't know that you can ever have enough, but I don't think it is the issue it was last year, at least in some people's minds."

For the offense to not be "the issue it was last year," something would have to have changed. Booth was a priority, and that's out of the way.  But he was on the roster last year, and so were Weiss, Frolik, Stillman, Reinprecht, and Horton.  It's hard to see how the situation is better now, and disappointing because what Sexton said is not what fans of a basement-dwelling team want to hear.

Is the problem financial? Ownership is in flux, and rumor has the SPAC deal on thin ice.  But Florida already has one of the lowest payrolls in the NHL; salaries are the last place the Cats should look for savings. If they need more money, they need a better product on the ice.

Drew Rosenhaus can't be the only offensive addition if the Panthers want to improve. 

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