McKenzie: Panthers may try to land Panarin via trade

The Florida Panthers are one step closer to perhaps being able to make the significant change they’re apparently seeking this summer.

Bob McKenzie had a Friday afternoon radio hit on Ottawa’s TSN 1200.

Hockey’s No. 1 Insider was asked about Friday’s trade between the Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins, which saw Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann head to the Penguins in exchange for pending unrestricted free agents Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan, along with three draft picks.

After explaining Jim Rutherford’s Cup-related mindset on the Pittsburgh side of the trade equation, McKenzie dove into Florida’s end of the deal.

“As for the Panthers, it’s pretty elementary,” noted McKenzie. “They got rid of contracts and they freed up cap space for next year - more than $4 million worth at this point.

“They picked up two assets in Brassard and Sheahan, who are unrestricted at the end of the year and don’t really do them any good because the Panthers aren’t going to make the playoffs anyway. So they’ll flip them for more prospects or future considerations in the form of draft picks, and stock the cupboard more fully - which also gives them more ammunition if they want to make some other hockey trades.

“We think the reason they want to clear the financial decks a little bit is because Florida would be interested in both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky in unrestricted free agency. And in fact, they may try to use Brassard and some of the other things they’ve got in their cupboard to see if possibly they could entice Columbus to part with Panarin before the deadline, and maybe Florida can get a leg up on trying to sell Artemi Panarin on signing long term with the Panthers.”

Panarin is in the second half of a two-year, $12 million contract, and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Bobrovsky is in the final season of a four-year, $29.7 million contract, which contains a no-move clause. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly