08/09/2013 at 12:17pm EDT
Florida has a number of excellent up and coming players, an area of promise but also an area of potential disappointment. These include the just drafted Barkov, said to be ready to step into an NHL lineup right away and likely to center at some point the the Calder rookie winner Huberdeau, who has the skill to be a star player for years to come. Headlining the promising young defensemen are Kulikov and Gudbranson, both developing into solid top four or even top two defensemen and both still young, especially for defensemen. Markstrom has been widely touted as a top goalie prospect for a few years and is likely to be given a legitimate shot at starting from the get go this season. Other promising young players are Shore, Bjugstad, Howden, Matthias, Matheson, and Petrovic.
In 2011 Dale Tallon stepped in as GM and made a number of moves and signings that brought in a number of overpaid players, partly to get above the cap floor. Tallon brought in and then resigned Versteeg, as well as trading for Campbell, whose contract has been criticized widely as being too much for his value. Other signings included Jovanovski, Upshall, Kopecky, and Bergenheim, and each of the aforementioned players have arguably or certainly failed to play up to their contracts. This may be due to injury, but regardless, these contracts will cripple the team's ability to spend especially through the 14-15 season and also through the 15-16 season.
This is not only a problem because Florida cannot spend that much money on its salary payroll, but also because it hampers its ability to resign its players, in particular its young ones. Gudbranson and Kulikov will likely be paid more than they have been depending on the coming season's performance, and each of the previously mentioned promising players except Matheson and Barkov will need to be resigned at the end of the 14-15 season.
It is not clear whether Florida will be able or willing to resign all of those players, especially all at the same time. Further, the uncertainty involving these players may make each of those players reluctant to sign contracts and especially reluctant to sign long ones.
Adding to the uncertainty and unstability of the Florida roster is that not a single player is signed past the 15-16 season. From the fan's point of view, this is a frightening situation. A fan could become attached to any or even all of these young players only to see them traded because they cannot be signed or walk away when they reach unrestricted free agency.
One person commented on a previous post that the NY Islanders were a more promising team, and that it may finally be time to put some hope in them. For all the bashing of the Islanders' management, one thing their management has not been afraid to do is lock up their promising players to long contracts. Tavares, a true star was signed to a six year contract, Bailey, Grabner, and Okposo to five year contracts, Nielsen to a four year contract, and Hamonic to a seven year contract. Of course, the Islanders made a number of other serious mistakes that I'm sure we all know about, but they have at least demonstrated to their fans that they will do what they can to hold on to talent, even if they have not always demonstrated competency at management.
Only two of the Panthers' promising, young players can be extended, but in the near future it may be important to show that the team will build a strong team by committing to the most promising young players through contracts, both as a message to the team's younger players and as a message to its fins.