The Patrick Sharp trade rumors heated up slightly and briefly Tuesday afternoon, when David Dwork of CBS Miami tweeted that the Chicago Blackhawks were nearing a trade for Sharp to the Florida Panthers.
These rumors were squelched rapidly, as a couple beat reporters from Florida and Chicago stated they had heard nothing about Sharp being dealt to Florida.
There has been plenty of contradiction within the media, but it appears more likely that the Panthers are less interested in Sharp than Dwork stated. However, the Panthers shouldn’t be ruled out as a potential, if not the best, trade partner for Sharp.
There are a few reasons why Florida is an ideal landing spot for Sharp, starting with the man in charge of the organization. Dale Tallon has been the general manager in Florida since 2010 and served as the GM in Chicago from 2005 to 2009. Tallon is one of the people most responsible for reviving the Blackhawks and brought in players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Sharp.
Da Windy City
Sharp was one of Tallon’s first major acquisitions when he became the GM in Chicago. Tallon has also shown interest in former Blackhawks in the past, including Kris Versteeg, Tomas Kopecky, Dave Bolland, Brian Campbell, Dylan Olsen, Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Pirri.
Another important reason why Florida would make sense as a destination for Sharp is cap space. The Panthers have more than $12.5 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.com, and could easily absorb Sharp’s $5.9 million cap hit for the next two seasons.
One of the problems in trading Sharp is that the Blackhawks may have to retain some of his salary. This wouldn’t necessarily be the case for Florida, as they would have 21 players (assuming the Blackhawks do not get an active player from Florida’s roster in return) signed and still have $6.55 million in wiggle room, according to Spotrac.
Sharp makes sense on the ice for the Panthers, too. The Panthers have a talented young nucleus, but their highest goal scorer last season was Nick Bjugstad with 24 goals. Sharp has scored at least 24 goals six times in his professional career, most recently during the 2013-14 season.
The Panthers averaged only 2.42 goals per game last season, which ranked 25th in the NHL. Sharp may be declining offensively, but he still hasn’t forgotten how to put the puck in the net and could score 25 goals on the first or second line in Florida. Sharp would add a needed scoring punch to a young lineup and could serve as a strong mentor and locker room guy for a young, budding team.
The one hurdle to any possible deal being made is Sharp’s no-trade clause. Sharp’s clause allows Chicago a list of 10 teams they can send him to without his permission. Any other trade requires Sharp’s permission and going from a Stanley Cup championship-winning team to a young squad fighting for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference may not be an appealing option to the 33-year-old winger.
Perhaps Sharp doesn’t end up being dealt at all. But given Tallon’s history with Chicago, Florida’s surplus of cap space and a desire for another goal scorer, it’s hard to imagine Bowman hasn’t at least kicked the tires on possibly sending Sharp to the Sunshine State. The Florida Panthers may be the best and maybe only destination for Patrick Sharp.