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[Rumour] Florida Panthers GM ready to deal No. 2 NHL draft pick — for right offer

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Florida Panthers GM ready to deal No. 2 NHL draft pick — for right offer:

TORONTO - Dale Tallon says the big poker game has begun.

A month before the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey, the general manager of the Florida Panthers is finding out the true value of what he’s been dealt, the No. 2 pick in what could be a volatile order of selection.

“I enjoy this part where you get to play a little poker with the teams around you and see what they’re willing to pay,” Tallon said Friday at the league’s scouting combine near Pearson airport in Toronto.

“This is the exciting part of the process. It was a painful year for us (last place, then losing the lottery to Colorado and dropping from top spot). Now this is where we can get some of the cream to salve the injuries.

“I’ve had a couple of minor conversations here and there (with teams asking) ‘are you going to move the pick?’ Well, make me an offer. That’s the way it goes. Start the process early and you work it all the way through until five minutes before, maybe a minute before you make your pick.”

Tallon and a squadron of NHL execs and scouts came to watch 101 prospects go through the two-day physical portion of the week-long combine. But the Panthers and Avalanche didn’t get to see the so-called Big Three prospects in the gruelling tests. Defenceman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads all declined, citing the wear and tear of a long junior season that wrapped up Sunday in the Memorial Cup.

Tampa Bay, which chooses third, is said to be considering Valeri Nichushkin, a big Russian forward previously thought to be under contract to Dynamo in the KHL. Through an interpreter, Nichushkin insisted again he is a free agent and ready to come to the NHL, but would play at home if he doesn’t start in North America. Drouin could fall to third, where the Nashville Predators now sit.

MacKinnon and Jones are getting lots of attention, since the Mooseheads’ win in the final and MacKinnon’s head-to-head success against Jones. Whether MacKinnon did enough to give new Colorado coach/co-manager Patrick Roy second thoughts about taking the Central Scouting’s top-rated Jones, Tallon can’t say.

“Colorado’s in the driver’s seat right now,” Tallon said. “We know we’ll get a hell of a player at No. two ... or three or four. It’s a deep draft and we’ve already drawn a line on the sand (as to how far the Panthers will drop and what they’d give in a trade). We’ve gone through every process and every situation this week and we’ll continue to re-hash this through this month. We’ll be ready for every situation come June 30th.”

MacKinnon did well in his interview with the Panthers, while Jones, the son of NBAer Popeye Jones, charmed a large media crowd on Friday. He said his father initially objected to hockey as a pursuit, but having spent part of his career in Toronto, he gradually relented and even once went out for a skate with Seth.

“That was pretty funny,” Seth recalled. “He did not let go of the boards, literally, pulling himself around the rink. He had some custom (size) 15 CCM skates which were huge and an extra long stick with a six-inch knob.

“I have two other brothers who wanted to play and he probably wasn’t too happy at the time, but he’s just fine with it now.”

Players such as Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts spoke to 28 of 30 teams at the combine in the course of the week and was invited to a follow-up evaluation by four clubs, including the Leafs. Toronto, which is selecting 21st as of now, will be hosting an undetermined number of players this weekend at its nearby practice facility for off-ice work.

“It’s been a long week,” said Erne, a projected late first rounder. “For the most part, the teams were asking the same questions. It gets easier as it goes on. You kind of get joking around a bit just to keep it interesting. You show your personality. I’m a kind of a funny guy in the locker room and you show them a little of that to lighten the mood.”


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Gillis' favorite trading partner. This makes all the sense in the world. Luongo gets his wish to go home.

Luongo in a package deal for #2.

This would seem alot more likely to happen then trading with Colorado for #1.

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