Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida Fire Panther sale

The Florida NHL franchise was busy before yesterday’s trading deadline.

WASHINGTON — The Panthers took a step to assure the Roberto Luongo trade will go down as one of the worst in franchise history Tuesday when they traded Todd Bertuzzi to Detroit hours before the NHL trade deadline.

The Luongo deal was easily the worst in Panther history. A 3rd rate goaltender and an injured player in place of an all-star goaltender. Fiasco is the word that sums up that trade.

Bertuzzi was the principle asset acquired in last June’s deal that sent Luongo, the team’s franchise goaltender, to Vancouver. Florida also got goaltender Alex Auld, out for the season with a knee injury, and top-four defenseman Bryan Allen. Defenseman Lukas Krajicek also joined the Canucks.

“We just have to move forward,” said coach and General Manager Jacques Martin, who served in his GM capacity for the first time on deadline day. “One thing you’ll learn about me is I make decisions to try to better the organization.

Martin wasn’t responsible for the Luongo trade but former GM Mike Keenan.

“I don’t live in the past. My commitment is to make this organization better, and to have a plan … I do feel we can make the organization better with the moves we’ve made today.”

Martin was busy in the 36 hours leading up to the deadline, but not as busy as many expected.

Gary Roberts agreed Tuesday morning to the deal that sent him to Pittsburgh for minor-league defenseman Noel Welch, and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski went to the same Penguins for a fourth-round draft pick.


Martin said he had discussions with Bertuzzi’s agent, Pat Morris, about a contract extension but ultimately decided to use the $5 million-plus it would have taken to re-sign him elsewhere.


Bertuzzi played only seven games before leaving the team in mid-October with a back injury. He has been practicing and is expected to play again soon.

Exactly what the Panthers get in return for Bertuzzi will depend on how far Detroit goes in the playoffs.

At minimum, they get a third-round pick, but it could rise to a first-rounder if the Red Wings reach a benchmark that is believed to be the conference finals.

Florida would get an additional pick if Bertuzzi re-signs with Detroit (not likely). Florida also got forward prospect Shawn Matthias, 19, a second-round pick of the Red Wings in last year’s entry draft.

The Panthers aren’t a playoff team now, Roberts and the now retired Joe Nieuwendyk weren’t going to be part of the future of this team. So I don’t mind Roberts being gone, but I’d like to know why does this team invest in over the hill players?

Ed Belfour, who is playing well in goal, isn’t any spring chicken either.(Don’t get me wrong, I like Eddie in goal. Its the age factor) With Auld injured, The Eagle is the only proven NHL goaltender the team has. In spite of their 13 goals in the last two games, the Panthers are a notoriously punchless offensive team who now has goaltending problems to boot. Not a good mix.

Matthias and the draft picks may work out but if Detroit thought so highly of this 19-year-old, why trade him for an injured player who will be a free agent at the end of the year? I’m hoping Detroit pulled a Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen but some how I doubt it.

As to the draft picks, the Panthers have had over 10 years to build an offense. Do I need to say more?

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The Luongo deal was the worst in their history, but it was compunded that everyone knew the Panthers were going to deal him or risk watching him walk away for nothing.

As for Captian Sucker Punch, they were smart to get what they could for him as I wouldn’t base a rebuilding of a team around him.

As for picks its gonna be a low pick in what ever round they get this year (2007) and as this draft is consider to be pretty weak overall, it may not matter much. The 2008 pick based on Bertuzzi’s resigning would probably far more valueable.

Posted by Mister Biggs | February 28, 2007 | 08:38 pm | Permalink

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