Florida Panthers' Forward Emerges As Their Top Trade Candidate

The Florida Panthers have had a big issue defensively this season while their scoring is also down. They got away with the lack of a strong defensive unit last season because they led the NHL in scoring and also had MacKenzie Weegar. They lost a number of players in the offseason through free agency and trades and with their cap crunch, couldn't afford any significant upgrades on defence.

Elliotte Friedman reported that the Panthers want to fix their defence for the long-term and this will likely cost them one of their top-six forwards. There have been rumours all year that the forward traded this season would be one of Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett, or Sam Reinhart. All are on fairly good deals and all are signed through next season. Friedman stated that Reinhart's name has been out there on and off while Bennett, not so much.

There seems to be more interest in Reinhart than Bennett and as Bennett has the cheaper cap hit, it may make sense for the Panthers to trade Reinhart despite his stronger offensive abilities. He has a cap hit of $6.5 million AAV that expires at the end of next season. Seeing as Bennett is signed for two more seasons after this one, Reinhart may be easier to move.

Reinhart has 21 goals and 45 points and has averaged nearly 20 minutes per game for the Panthers this season, moving up and down the lineup. He can play both center and the right wing, but has been utilized on the wing in Florida. Bennett is a natural center and exclusively plays there. He has 14 goals and 35 points on the season and averages 17:35 as the second line centerman. Look for Reinhart to potentially be swapped with a defender in the offseason or be moved out to make room for a couple of signings.

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