All things had been relatively quiet on the news front for the Panthers leading up to the regular season. But, as the preseason continues, Florida has stepped into the limelight yet again.
Firstly, the team recently announced the acquisition of defenseman Toni Lydman from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for prospect Tomas Jurco.
At a press conference, General Manager Brock Otten tried to explain the trade. "Look, we were given the opportunity to improve our defense, so we went out and did it. The depth of our team at the position wasn't tremendous, and now we're in a position where our 7th defenseman is still a quality NHL player (Milan Jurcina). We gave up one of our better prospects, but this is a quality trade for our team."
The acquisition of Lydman allows the team to slide Robyn Regehr down to the team's third pairing to give youngster Dmitri Kulikov a stable veteran partner. It also improves the team's penalty killing unit.
Considering the team is currently undefeated in the preseason, you'd have to think this only makes the team stronger without disrupting chemistry much.
Secondly (and thirdly), the team announced the signing of undrafted free agents Garret Ross and Chad Billins. Ross is an overager for the Saginaw Spirit who is an NHL draft pick. He's a tough as nails, character guy. Billins is an offensive defenseman who is currently 3rd in scoring among AHL defenseman. He does not have an NHL deal yet, but considering how impressively he's playing as an AHL rookie, it likely isn't long before he receives one.