Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs exchange defensemen

Both teams missed last year’s playoffs. Will this deal reverse either Florida or Toronto’s recent fortunes?

General Manager Jacques Martin set out this summer to improve the Panthers’ defense. Instead, he has remade it.

Martin completed the third significant off-season addition to his defense Tuesday, acquiring former All-Star and Olympian Bryan McCabe from Toronto for oft-injured defenseman Mike Van Ryn. The Panthers also received a fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft.

The deal was rumored for weeks, but McCabe – who has a no-trade clause – would not approve the trade until he received a $2 million bonus he was due from the Maple Leafs on Monday.

The other new defensemen for the Panthers are Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton, both acquired from Phoenix in the draft-day deal that sent Olli Jokinen to the Coyotes. All three newcomers are expected to play in a top-six rotation that also figures to include Jay Bouwmeester, Bryan Allen and Noah Welch or Karlis Skrastins.

Florida has certainly bolstered its defense, but lost its leading scorer Olli Jokinen in the process. No signifigant scorer was brought in to fill that gap. Therefore I don’t see this deal propelling Florida to the playoffs in the 2008-09 season. As for Toronto, I don’t have any opinion on their playoff chances this season.

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“Will this deal reverse either Florida or Toronto�s recent fortunes?”

I don’t think so with Florida but Toronto is more than a trade or three away from being significant in the playoffs.

Posted by markm | September 4, 2008 | 08:41 am | Permalink

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