The Florida Panthers are in a world of hurt right now. As in literal hurt.
The surprising Southeast Division leaders are still holding onto a somewhat comfortable lead over the Winnipeg Jets in the division, but they are missing a lot of players. As in seven forwards, all due to some form of injury.
That has general manager Dale Tallon on the verge of signing veteran free agent John Madden. That's according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Hearing John Madden signs with @FlaPanthers tomorrow."
Madden played most recently for the Minnesota Wild and Russo used to be the beat writer for the Panthers, so he can have a rumor like that covered from both sides.
Then current Panthers beat writer George Richards of the Miami Herald tweeted that the timeline perhaps has been quickened. "Word in the #FlaPanthers locker room is John Madden has been signed and is excited to join the Cats."
Richards added that the deal isn't likely to be announced quite yet. "#FlaPanthers say no announcement on John Madden forthcoming; coach Kevin Dineen left practice early" followed by Tallon saying it isn't done quite yet.
“We don't know how long that's going to take [to get rust off] and when we're getting some other guys back," Tallon said Wednesday.
Either way, there's a lot of smoke, so the fire seems to be close behind.
Like a good chunk of the Panthers roster this season, Tallon has some familiarity with Madden, who was part of the Stanley Cup champion in Chicago that Tallon helped build. He is a tough-nosed center that likely still has some gas left in the tank. He scored 12 goals last season for the Wild.
He would also bring along the intangibles that come with being a veteran and a multiple-times champion in the NHL. In addition to winning the Blackhawks he also lifted the Stanley Cup twice while a member of the New Jersey Devils.
But more importantly, he helps the Panthers get through their injury woes at the moment. As mentioned, seven players are currently sidelined, all of them forwards. Stephen Weiss and Mikael Samuelsson could return soon but it doesn't look as good for Jack Skille, Sean Bergenheim, Marco Sturm, Marcel Goc or Scottie Upshall.
I think it is a solid addition for the Panthers even without those intangibles. He's 38 but he can likely still lead a third or fourth line when the injured Panthers get healthy. Coach Kevin Dineen has been clear that he really likes to be able to run all four lines.
What's more, Madden has long been very good on the penalty kill, a department the Panthers could use some improvement. Their 80.2 percent kill rate ranks 24th in the league.
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