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NHL rumors: Panthers looking to trade any of their veterans

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

A number of Florida players could be up for grabs. (USATSI)
A number of Florida players could be up for grabs. (USATSI)

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The Florida Panthers are now under new ownership and things, they could be a changing.

After a comeback on Saturday night over the Wild that resulted in a shootout win over the Wild, the Panthers moved to 3-6-0 on the young season. This doesn't seem to be sitting well with new owners Vinny Viola and Doug Cifu, who appear to be handing out marching orders to GM Dale Tallon.

From Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun:

Forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, Shawn Matthias, Brad Boyes and Marcel Goc are among those available along with Tom Gilbert and Dmitry Kulikov, just to name a few.

After making the playoffs two years ago, the Panthers haven't gotten off to the kind of start anybody expected, especially after signing veteran goalie Tim Thomas.

While Viola and Cifu are willing to commit cash to the organization, the belief is they don't want to throw good money after bad. The only thing GM Dale Tallon doesn't want to do is trade any of the club's good young prospects.

It could be short stays for a few of those guys. Boyes and Gilbert just signed contracts with the Panthers a little more than a month ago and especially in the case of Boyes, it's been a good deal for the Panthers. He leads the team with four goals in the early going.

While that's not an overly attractive group of players available, there's not a lack of intrigue. Goc would be a player a lot of teams would like to have as a good two-way center with experience while younger guys such as Kulikov and Matthias still have room to grow some as well. Then there's Versteeg who is capable of scoring 20-plus but has a contract that would be tough to move.

Perhaps the most interesting name would be Fleischmann. He has been a very productive player since going to Florida and that includes playing every single game since he signed. He has eight points in name games this season and in the last 82-game campaign, in 2011-12, he finished with 27 goals and 34 assists. He does have a cap hit that could be tough to move at $4.5 million but it's a contract that only runs through next season.

As Garrioch notes the young players would remain off limits as you'd expect. Don't think of getting a uy like Jonathan Huberdeau or Erik Gudbranson, they're still the future.

The only question is how long are the Panthers willing to ride this group out. They have looked better the past few games, competitive in each of them. There's a rightful concern that these players aren't going to take them where they want to be but at the same time it's hard to think they'd be better without a guy like Fleischmann on the ice. You run the risk of continuing a never-ending sell-off cycle. At the same time, though, if this group isn't getting the job done, what's the point of keeping them around when they can help you get pieces to get to the end goal.

It's likely nothing is going to happen right away so this group will likely get a shot to prove they're up to it, but as the deadline approaches and the Panthers remain where just about everybody expects them to remain, the Panthers could become very active. That doesn't even mention Tim Thomas.

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