After retaking the reins back after the failed analytical experiment, GM Dale Tallon made a flurry of surprising moves. He let 30 goal scorer Jon Marchessault and one time 25 goal scorer Reilly Smith go to Vegas. Marchessault was Rowe’s guy and Rowe had signed the bad Smith extension. Free Agency saw Tallon bring in a flurry of depth. He also brought back some of his old guys.
The Gudbranson Attempt
Tallon tried to bring back Defenseman Erik Gudbranson. Gudbranson, a fan favorite in Florida. While Gudbranson was an electrifying player physically, he had miserable numbers on offense. Gudbranson was traded by Tom Rowe to the Vancouver Canucks for Jared McCann (who did nothing last year; but has been excellent this preseason); a 2nd round pick (traded to Buffalo in the Kulikov trade but we got Adam Mascherin as a result of both trades) and a 4th round pick (Jonathan Ang). Gudbranson was a fan favorite for his fights most notably the Matt Hendricks beat down.
Tallon tried to trade Defenseman Jason Demers, whom Rowe signed to a ridiculous 5 year $22.5 million dollar deal for Gudbranson, but Rowe and Demers foiled him as Rowe had included a 8 team NTC in the contract which Demers had decided Vancouver would be one of those teams. I mean who can blame Demers who would want to play for Vancouver? ;). Demers got a lot of flak before he was traded recently for Forward Jamie McGinn.
I don’t think Tallon is done with Gudbranson yet. He might try to trade for him, but most likely we will see Gudbranson sign with the Cats in the 2018 free agency.
One of Tallon’s pet projects was prospect Connor Brickley. Brickley was picked 50th overall by the Panthers in 2010. Brickley decided to play his full four years at the University of Vermont before he arrived in San Antonio late in 2013-14 to play in the AHL. After a full year in the AHL, Brickley did well at training camp and won a hard fought roster spot. Brickley eventually played 23 games putting up 5 points before going to Portland to play in the AHL. Brickley was traded by Rowe to Carolina for Brody Sutter. Brickley had 26 points in 69 games with Carolina’s AHL affiliate in Charlotte.
The Hurricanes left Brickley exposed in the expansion draft. They gave Vegas a 5th rounder to take the pending UFA which Brickley’s former head coach Gerard Gallant gladly did so. However, the Golden Knights a) didn’t try to sign him or b) they were outbid by the Panthers.
Brickley has had a solid preseason and is currently one of the players competing for a roster spot. Brickley will likely see some action this year.
The Strange Cases of Evengii Dadonov and Brandon Pirri
Two former Panthers brought back were Evengii Dadonov and Brandon Pirri both of whom were traded by Tallon with the cats.
Evengii Dadonov was drafted before Tallon took over as a 3rd round pick in 2007. Dadonov had a solid rookie season posting 17 points in 34 games in 2010-11. However after Tallon signed a plethora of veterans to end the Panthers dismal record setting 10 straight years playoff drought, Dadonov was the odd man out. He was traded along with AJ Jenks to Carolina for Jon Matsumoto and Matthias Lindstrom. He would leave to go to Europe. After a 30 goal 2016-17 season with SKA Saint Petersburg in the KHL, Tallon brought him back on a 3 year $12M deal. Dadonov has looked very well so far with Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau and it looks like his story will have a happy ending.
Brandon Pirri and Dale Tallon have been through thick and thin together. Pirri was drafted by the Tallon/Bowman transition regime in Chicago and was a decent prospect. After finally winning a roster spot in 2013, he was traded to the Panthers for a couple of draft picks.
Pirri had an exceptional 2014-15 season scoring 22 goals in 49 games. However he was a defensive liability and after falling back to Earth the next year, he was traded to the Ducks for a 6th rounder. After a quick stint with the Rangers, Tallon brought him back on a PTO. If he doesn’t make the team, he will head over to Europe to play for the ZSC Lions