Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon must be licking his chops waiting for this June’s draft.
Tallon was the story of last year’s festivities only a few weeks after he got the job when he came home with three first rounders and six of the top 50 players chosen. In less than four months, he’ll have at least 10 picks in the first three rounds, the latest coming today when Florida traded defenseman Dennis Wideman to the Washington Capitals.
The Panthers received a low-level minor leaguer named Jake Hauswirth in the deal, but more important to them was adding another third-round pick in June. It’s the fourth Tallon has stockpiled, to go a along with a first-round choice and two in the second round, and is part of the rapid-fire reload the general manager has engineering for the long-suffering team.
Tallon also shed a $4 million salary for the balance of this season and next, and will have nearly $40 million in available cap space heading into next season. Thanks to what is about to become 10 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance, the Panthers are a money-losing operation, so how much they use for free agents and the like is debatable.
Tallon has always been about building through the draft anyway, so this fits into his plan. Especially because Wideman wasn’t really a piece the Panthers needed right now.
Wideman came last summer in a trade for Nathan Horton and provided the kind of offense, particularly on the power play that was expected. But he gave the puck away a lot and was a major liability defensively. His minus-26 was the worst on Florida.
But that may not matter much in Washington where the Caps are without Mike Green and Tom Poti these days. Both are offensive-minded defenseman and Green is one of the catalysts for the team’s attack, so Wideman can help fill some of that void. The irony though is that Washington has been trying to get its blue liners to think more about their own end this season.
No matter. The Caps are hurting and need to get things ramped up for the playoffs. Besides, the third-round pick Washington gave up is likely to be no better than the middle of the round and Hauswirth isn’t really much of a prospect.
So all it really cost the Caps was money. And sometimes that's the cheapest price to pay.