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McKenzie hints four player trade may have been the first step in a much bigger move.

Another huge move on the way.

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The National Hockey League is a very interesting place at all time but when you're within one month of the National Hockey League's trade deadline in any particular season that excitement multiplies several times over.

Earlier this week we witnessed a major trade between the Florida Panthers and the Pittsburgh Penguins that left many fans scratching their heads at what had just transpired. The Panthers, a team that currently should not have any playoff aspirations this season given the fact that they are currently 11 points out, gave up the two best players in the trade when they sent Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to the Penguins in exchange for Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan as well as a trio of draft picks in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. The picks for those who missed the trade are a second round pick as well as a pair of fourth round picks.

It was a curious move given that the Sheahan and Brassard are both what one would consider rental players at this stage, something that makes no sense for the Panthers given their playoff situation. That is unless of course they have another move planned, which is exactly what National Hockey League insider Bob McKenzie expects from them.

“As for the Panthers, it’s pretty elementary,” noted McKenzie as per Nichols on Hockey. “They got rid of contracts and they freed up cap space for next year - more than $4 million worth at this point. 

“They picked up two assets in Brassard and Sheahan, who are unrestricted at the end of the year and don’t really do them any good because the Panthers aren’t going to make the playoffs anyway. So they’ll flip them for more prospects or future considerations in the form of draft picks, and stock the cupboard more fully - which also gives them more ammunition if they want to make some other hockey trades.”

What's interesting however is just how big of a move that the Florida Panthers may have had in mind in order to make a trade of this sort worthwhile. According to McKenzie the Panthers could be using this move as an attempt to secure two of the hottest free agents on the market this summer before the summer ever even begins.

“We think the reason they want to clear the financial decks a little bit is because Florida would be interested in both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky in unrestricted free agency. And in fact, they may try to use Brassard and some of the other things they’ve got in their cupboard to see if possibly they could entice Columbus to part with Panarin before the deadline, and maybe Florida can get a leg up on trying to sell Artemi Panarin on signing long term with the Panthers.”

That of course would be one hell of a steal if the Florida Panthers were able to pull it off, but whether or not such a move is even possible remains to be seen. Of course given that this is Bob McKenzie speculating you can bet all eyes are going to be on Florida and Columbus in the coming days.