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2007 NHL Free Agency


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The NHL free agent signing period begins July 1st and the first few days are always very busy with lots of players changing teams. I thought it deserved it's own thread.


I guess i'll get the topic started with some Panthers news. George Richards who does good work with the Herald seems to think Todd White is on his way to the Panthers. It makes sense since he has a past relationship with Martin fom their days in Ottawa. He would be a solid pickup. Not quite a huge offensive boost, but a solid player who would add some speed and depth. Here is the article.




Panthers add seven more, look to the future

After taking seven more players, the Panthers must now focus on their players with expiring contracts, and free agents.




COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Panthers concluded the NHL Draft on Saturday by selecting seven more players who they hope will help them down the road.


Today, Florida coach and general manager Jacques Martin begins planning for the immediate future.


''The next 10 days are very important for our organization,'' Martin said from the floor of Nationwide Arena. ``We've accomplished a lot by acquiring [goalie Tomas] Vokoun, the signing of [right wing Nathan] Horton this week. It's a good indication that the commitment from ownership and the organization is there. We're moving forward and have stability. We just need to keep working.''


After a busy week, the Panthers set their sights on the 2007-08 season. A number of players need to be tendered qualifying offers by Monday night, and the free agent period begins July 1.


The Panthers aren't actively looking for a goalie because they reeled in Vokoun in a blockbuster trade with Nashville on Friday. But they do have needs that will be addressed.


As of Saturday, Florida has almost $30 million locked up in contract money for next season, with Vokoun ($5.3 million) and captain Olli Jokinen ($5.25 million) leading the way.


Not including probable minor-leaguers, Florida has 14 regulars locked up and needs to re-sign Stephen Weiss, Noah Welch and either Alex Auld or Craig Anderson. Martin is expected to qualify defensemen Steve Montador and Alexei Semenov.


Juraj Kolnik is not likely to receive a tender, but could sign with the team as a free agent after July 1 if he accepts a pay cut.


The Panthers are in the market for more offensive help, with Minnesota forward Todd White likely headed south.


Martin also has said Florida will look at free agents Slava Kozlov and former Panther Viktor Kozlov.


Both players would help Florida's offensive needs. Other targets could also be searched out, including trying to re-sign forwards Jozef Stumpel and Martin Gelinas before July 1.


Last week, owner Alan Cohen said Florida's payroll next season would near $45 million. It looks like it might be more than that once the dust settles.


''We have to make sure we have the proper order by looking at what our needs are,'' Martin said.


``Hopefully, we can fill some of those needs either with free agents or trades. We need to fill some forward positions, that's where our focus will be. We need more grittiness, a physical presence. But, at the same time, we'd like to add some speed to our lineup.''




On Saturday, however, Martin and his scouting team was looking past 2007-08 to find the organization's newest crop of players.


Florida had the 10th selection in the second round and didn't use Tampa Bay's second-round pick, opting to use that selection next year. Florida will have two, and perhaps three, second-round selections next year, with one of those going to Nashville as part of the Vokoun trade. Florida would receive a third pick if Todd Bertuzzi re-signs with Detroit.


The Panthers used their second-round pick Saturday on Czech forward Michal Repik. A star of Vancouver's Memorial Cup victory in juniors, Repik is familiar with the Panthers because of his relationships with Florida prospect Kenndal McArdle and Czech forwards Rostislav Olesz and Michael Frolik.


On Friday, Florida made defenseman Keaton Ellerby its first-round selection.


''I know some guys over there, so I think this is a good thing,'' Repik said.


Said Martin: ``I think he's a player who has a real chance to be a Panther some day.''


Florida took a total of eight players, gathering in four forwards, three defensemen and a goalie. Fourth-round pick Matt Rust is off to the University of Michigan but will be paying attention to what transpires with the Panthers.


''This goes above and beyond my expectations,'' Rust said.

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George Richards is my favorite columnist as per sports in the Herald. Always has a lot of information and anyone who reads his blog knows he has a sense of humor. :p




I'd be very happy if Todd White ended up here. He's the type of winger who'll score 20-30 goals put up anywhere between 15-30 assists and play a very responsible game. Hi character guy too if I remember correctly.



I still don't know whats this talk of Victor Kozlov returning. Though, I'm not willing at all to doubt JM at this point in time.


Slava Kozlov would be a steal. And then we could rub it in Atlanta's face. Muahaha.

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