Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers

Stressing Patience As Free Agency Opens

Panthers lock up Matthias, three others while saying goodbye to Weiss.

Friday, 07.05.2013 / 6:30 PM / News
By Glenn Odebralski  -
Share with your Friends

Stressing Patience As Free Agency Opens
Center Shawn Matthias celebrates one of his career-high 14 goals last season while playing the New Jersey Devils. (Getty Images)

For Panthers GM Dale Tallon, it was all about taking the 2013 free agency period one day and one move at a time.

"We've got to be patient here. I said that we would be patient today and that we're not going to overpay and that we're going to chip away at this all summer," said Tallon on a conference call a couple of hours after the start of free agency. "We don't play a game until October so we've got time here to keep fixing and keep adding.

“We're not done yet."

The biggest move of the day was locking up center Shawn Matthias. The forward had a breakout year last season, led by his play in March. Matthias scored a career-high 14 goals, including 11 in the second last month of the season.

"A very good deal. He's improving and if he keeps improving, we've seen flashes of brilliance last year, now he's just got to get more consistent," said Tallon on signing Matthias to a two-year contract. "He's fairly young, big, can skate and he's going to fit into what we have got coming as far as size and speed, he fits into what the plan is."

Compared to the last contract Matthias signed just before camp started, the 25-year old was happy to get it done so he could focus on the upcoming season.

"I'm happy to get it out of the way. The last contract I did, it was two days before camp so it's nice to have it out of the way and now I can just focus on training and getting ready for the season," said Matthias. "It was nice to do the first contract signed in front of my parents so it was a pretty special moment for them and it was a lot of fun."

Signing Matthias was a priority for the Panthers, especially with the loss of the longest tenured Panther, Stephen Weiss. The franchise's all-time leader in games played (654) and assists (249) and second leading point producer (419) signed a five-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings Friday. Playing with the Panthers since being drafted fourth overall in the 2001 NHL Draft, Weiss will certainly be missed but Tallon and Matthias were happy for him.

"We just couldn't get it done," said Tallon. "It just didn't fit in. It's not very often you get into this position or you have a chance to be an unrestricted free agent and I don't blame Stephen one bit. I'm happy for him, I think he's much deserving; it just didn't work out for us. We just have to move on."

"Obviously everyone knows that Stephen and I are pretty close. I lived at his house for a couple of years," said Matthias. "He's a special guy. He's been with the team for so long and he really cared about the Panthers. I'm sure it's a tough day for him. I learned a lot from him."

"He was a classy guy. I've gotten to know him and I like him a lot and I'm happy for him," added Tallon. "You've got to take a shot when you get that opportunity. He has to think of his family and all of that and I ought to congratulate him on a great career here and wish him all the best."

Tallon tried to find a contract that would fit both parties, being mindful of what the Panthers have in the system as well as the budget that's in place. Fortunately for some of the young players, they'll get a chance to compete early on in their professional careers.

"We're going to go with our young guys," said Tallon. "That's been the plan all along and that's the way we're going to go.

"The (Aleksander) Barkov's and (Nick) Bjugstad's and (Drew) Shore's and (Vincent) Trocheck's. Those are the guys that are our future. That's what's going to have to get done here."


While it was a change in the longest tenured status (going from Weiss to Matthias), the Panthers did add some new faces as they signed forwards Joey Crabb and Jesse Winchester and defenseman Mike Mottau. Crabb, especially, will be given a chance to come in and play some minutes for the Panthers.

"He's going to play. Kill penalties, got skill, speed and he competes hard," said Tallon. "I'm trying to change the dynamic of our forth line for speed, more aggression. He's a good role player, good penalty killer, got high energy... He's a right winger with speed. He played in the World Championships two years ago for Team USA. I was real happy with the way he played. He understands his role. He does it very well."

The Panthers GM is confident in all three of the new skater's games as they will be very valuable during the season, feeling that Florida will be better prepared for injuries whenever they pop up.

"Last year we were injured and we didn't have a lot of guys that could come up and play and fill in so we're trying to correct that situation with the addition of Winchester, Mottau and Joey Crabb and (Bobby) Butler," said Tallon. "We've got guys that can come up and play valuable minutes for us when we're injured. Last year we didn't have enough depth to offset those injuries."

Those weren't the only moves as Florida traded enforcer George Parros to Montreal in exchange for LW Philippe Lefebvre and a 2014 seventh round pick. That followed up on Wednesday's buyout of defenseman Filip Kuba.

"We finished last, last year," said Tallon. "We brought in some players and they didn't quite work out. I'm trying to stir the pot here and get some pieces that fit and that's what we're doing."




1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
3 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
11 OTT 61 27 23 11 173 166 65
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43


N. Bjugstad 64 22 16 -9 38
J. Huberdeau 61 9 28 3 37
A. Ekblad 64 11 23 7 34
J. Jokinen 63 6 28 -1 34
B. Boyes 62 11 21 8 32
J. Jagr 60 12 19 -10 31
J. Hayes 55 17 12 -4 29
B. Campbell 64 3 20 2 23
A. Barkov 53 10 12 -5 22
V. Trocheck 34 5 11 8 16
R. Luongo 23 16 11 .921 2.37
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08 is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.