The list of Eastern Conference teams that are out of the playoff race is a short one, but it most definitely includes the Florida Panthers. What makes the Panthers interesting when it comes to the trade deadline is that they actually have quite a few attractive players on their roster for teams that are still in the hunt.
The only question is whether or not general manager Dale Tallon wants to part with them and sell off what he can.
What they lack in impact, established top-line talent, they make up for with a host of players that could be useful complimentary parts on contending teams.
Upcoming free agents
Any playoff team that needs a two-way center to do some heavy lifting on their third line should be picking up the phone and calling the Panthers about Marcel Goc, not only one of the better defensive forwards in the league, but a guy that can also chip in a little bit of offense while playing tough minutes. He's not only really good, but his cap hit ($1.7 million for the season) is very manageable. A team like Pittsburgh or Anaheim should be very interested.
Defensively, the Panthers found a bargain in free agency when they picked up Tom Gilbert on a one-year deal, and his season-long partnership with Brian Campbell has quietly produced one of the best and most productive defensive pairings in the league. Gilbert has always been a polarizing player in the hockey community as he is usually a favorite of the analytics crowd, but typically cast aside by scouts because he doesn't always look the part of a defensemen.
And then there is Brad Boyes -- another under-the-radar free agent signing from the summer on a one-year, $1 million deal -- a forward that always seems to be on the move. He's already scored 15 goals, the most he's scored in a single season since 2010-11, and since the start of last season has scored a very respectable 25 goals in 92 games.
Market for Tim Thomas?
Any team that needs a starting goaltender (and really, outside of maybe St. Louis or Washington there probably aren't a ton in that market) is probably going to be talking to the Buffalo Sabres about Ryan Miller. But for a team that doesn't get him, or doesn't want to give up what Buffalo is asking for, or simply needs a solid backup, there might be some interest in Thomas. He's not the player he was before his one-year sabbatical from the league, but he's posted a .910 save percentage behind what has been at times a porous Florida defense.