Got off the phone with Panthers (interim) GM Randy Sexton a while ago and he shared some insight about Florida's busy start to the free agency period...
- It appears Jordan Leopold, who was acquired in the deal which sent Jay Bouwmeester to Calgary, will be testing the free agent market. Sexton said Leopold may sign with Florida, but after a long pause, called that chance "remote."
"We tried to do a few different things," Sexton said about contract negotiations with Leopold. "For whatever reason, it couldn't quite come together."
- Although there are still a few scorers available on the market, don't expect to see the Panthers to upgrade its top two lines. Sexton said Florida is comfortable with its top six and bluntly stated it is not likely the team will spend on offense.
- A good part of today's agenda involved re-signing players. In trying to keep David Booth and Radek Dvorak -- two players cited as models for the Panthers' makeup -- he found success. With backup netminder Craig Anderson, not so much.
On Booth: "We're just delighted. David embodies everything that's an ideal Panther. Speed, skill ... great work ethic and attitude."
On Dvorak: "We're really happy to have D-vo back. He helped us create the identity last year as an up-tempo team. ... He wanted to come back, and we wanted him back."
- When the Panthers lost out on Anderson, they turned their focus to finding a backup for Tomas Vokoun. Sexton indicated the Cats focused on two netminders, but found themselves leaning toward Clemmensen because of the assets he could bring to the team. Clemmensen's contract demands were in line with Florida's plan, so they went ahead with a deal.
Florida has $14.2 million committed to its goaltenders over the next two seasons, with most of that going to Vokoun. The Panthers seem comfortable, though, with the idea Clemmensen overtaking the Czech netminder for the No. 1 job.
"We would envision an open competition," Sexton said. "I don't think Tomas is a shrinking violet, and Scott is an extremely competitive guy. We expect a competitive situation for that starting position."
- No word on the Panthers' GM search, but Sexton says he's thankful for getting a hands-on opportunity to make his case for the job.
"[Panthers President Bill Torrey] and I talk every day and Bill is clear there are other good candidates," Sexton said. "I'm fortunate I got the chance to audition for the job."