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Ekblad on LTIR Means Panthers to Make More Moves Pre-Trade Deadline

The Florida Panthers continue to make moves and they may not be done after word Aaron Ekblad is out the rest of the regular season.

The first real case of a team getting the opportunity to use LTIR rules to create salary-cap flexibility might have just happened on Sunday. While defenseman Aaron Ekblad suffered a legitimate injury, the Florida Panthers got some decent news as the blueliner is expected to be out the rest of the regular season, but should be back for the playoffs.

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The Panthers are pretty much a lock for the postseason and while the news of Ekblad going down is bad, it could be worse. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports, “I’m told Aaron Ekblad will be placed on LTIR and will not return during the regular season, but sometime during the first round.” The silver lining from this news is that the Panthers now have a big amount of additional cap space they can use to buy before Monday.

Aaron Ekblad Florida Panthers
Aaron Ekblad Florida Panthers

Seravalli adds, “So cap space is no issue for #FlaPanthers. Expect them to be active – and maybe use that space (after Robert Hagg deal) to attempt to recoup some picks.” With Ekblad’s $7.5 million salary added to their LTIR Pool they can now exceed the cap by up to $10.1 million, and they have $7.1M Cap Space available.

As for what the Panthers might be in the market to add, that’s not clear. There are a number of names still out there on the trade bait board and the team is fairly stacked. Someone like Rickard Rakell is still on the board, as is Nick Paul out of Ottawa and Andrew Copp in Winnipeg. Could the Panthers really take a risk and try to trade for someone like Phil Kessel? It won’t cost much to pry him out of Arizona and the Coyotes will be happy to retain some salary in the deal.

The other suggestion here is that the Panthers might talk to teams that want to dump some money and try to get picks as sweeteners back. They have spent a number of the draft capital during this deadline buying spree and this is an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.

Next: Trade By Panthers and Flyers Includes Claude Giroux and Owen Tippett

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