Mike Burse The Hockey Writers
Should Dale Tallon be on the hot seat?
Now that Dale Tallon finally has his franchise goalie in Roberto Luongo and franchise defender in Aaron Ekblad shouldn’t we be very happy with his work during his time in Florida? Based on a report from TSN’s Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon is currently on the hot seat with Panthers ownership. The question is should he be? Let’s get into a little more detail from Darren Dreger on the situation. It appears that ownership was very critical in their season ending exit interview with the Panthers general manager.
“It seemed like, according to some of the rumblings and speculation around the Florida Panthers that Tallon was in a tough spot and may very much be in trouble or in jeopardy of losing his job at the end of the season. But things have settled down there. So maybe now he’s dodged a bullet. Dave Nonis under contract for another three years for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Florida knows that he’s available. Ray Shero is now gone. There are other guys that could be promoted or could step up.”
No onto the real question, should Dale Tallon be on the hot seat with the ownership of the Florida Panthers? Granted he’s been on the job for five full seasons now after being hired in May 2010. However he inherited a team that did not make the post season for nine consecutive years and only once twelve seasons. The roster he inherited was littered with spare parts and stop gaps with the top five scorers being:
- Stephen Weiss (60 points),
- Nathan Horton (57 points),
- Bryan McCabe (43 points),
- Michael Frolik (43 points), and
- Steven Reinprecht (38 points).
What has he done?
His first season on the job Dale Tallon was extremely busy trying to purge as much of the roster as possible which included 18 trades. Among those 18 trades he acquired 11 draft picks. It was clear the direction he was taking the team. Prior to Tallon being hired the Panthers averaged 78 points and since they have averaged 81 points (excluding the 2012-13 lockout shortened season). Clearly it has been a marginal improvement. But like his time with the Chicago Blackhawks his true value has been in rebuilding the youth and depth of prospects for the Panthers.
Out of the 42 draft picks made during Tallon’s time nine of them have played in the NHL to date. That’s a 21% success rate with 14 of those picks coming in just the past two seasons. Six of them have played substantial roles this past season, including:
- Aaron Ekblad,
- Alexsander Barkov,
- Jonathan Huberdeau,
- Erik Gudbranson,
- Nick Bjugstad, and
- Alex Petrovic.
I would call that a very successful draft record that will lead the Panthers to sustainable success if their ownership can remain patient enough. With another nine picks in this summer’s NHL draft the Panthers are once again poised to add to their prospect depth.
Overall the salary cap situation is in relatively good shape with no contracts over six million dollar extending past next season. The only contract that the Florida Panthers may be looking to move is Dave Bolland’s $5.5 million cap hit that extends another four seasons. This will be a tough contract to move in light of his overall production and recent injury history. However with Barkov, Huberdeau, Gudbranson and Petrovic all requiring extensions over the next couple years the Panthers may need to move him to make room in their budget.
Would I keep him?
Having one full season of a top flight goaltender in Roberto Luongo under their belt things can only get better in Florida. Their young players are just starting to reach their potential with many more in the pipeline. As well picking 11th overall this summer will help them to potentially add yet another piece. With some shrewd trades and free agent signings I can see this Panther’s team being a perennial playoff contender moving forward.
My message to Jeff Vinnik is to stay the course, remain patient. Good things come to those that wait. Dale Tallon has rebuilt this franchise from the ground up and he will hopefully be given the chance to reap the rewards unlike how it ended for him in Chicago. Although the reality of the situation appears to be that Dale Tallon is now on borrowed time. It seems like it will be playoffs or bust next season for his tenure as general manager down in Florida. If nothing else Dale Tallon has taken another also ran franchise and given them the depth of talent in their prospect pool to have great hopes for the future.
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