The Cats just freed up some financial wiggle room.
Announced Friday evening, the Florida Panthers agreed to a two-for-two trade with the New Jersey Devils, packaging Marc Savard’s contract with a 2018 second round draft pick in exchange for Paul Thompson and Graham Black.
Although Savard hasn’t taken to an NHL ice surface since February of 2011, the former Bruin has yet to formally retire, leaving his seven-year, $28,150,000 contract in the books. Its projected cap hit of $4,027,143 will help the Devils reach the salary cap floor, while giving the Panthers–who were $2,312,255 shy of the ceiling this past season–some breathing room heading into free agency.
With Brian Campbell set to test the open market and several young skaters–most notably breakout forward Vincent Trocheck–up for restricted free agency, the extra space will enable the Panthers to both shore up their blue line and retain some of the forward corps’ youthful contributors.
Additionally, the Cats netted two depth skaters in return. Thompson–a six-foot, 200-pound right winger–is the more seasoned of the two, having appeared in three career NHL contests. The 27-year old native of Methuen, Massachusetts, has carved himself a niche at the AHL level, scoring at a 0.49 point-per-game pace through 329 career matches.
Black, a former fifth-round selection of the Devils back in 2012, has yet to appear in a regular season NHL game. And, heading into his third season in the minors, the six-foot, 185-pound pivot has yet to rediscover the offensive touch that enabled him to torch the opposition at the midget and major junior levels. Suiting up for 98 games on the farm in Albany, Black has yet to score more than 14 points in a season.
Free agency is set to open on July 1.