Decision Time in Florida: Who's Are the Panthers Most Likely to Trade?

Eric LaForgeCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2010

MONTREAL - JUNE 26:  Assistant General Manager Randy Sexton of the Florida Panthers speaks at the podium during the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 26, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As the season gets closer to ending, we are once again being reminded of the changes that the Florida Panthers need to make. Since they lost Nathan Horton to an injury, they have been showing a lack of offensive depth. In fact, they have not scored more than two goals in a game since January 16th against the Tampa Bay Lightning. To many fans, this is the most frustrating part about the team.

Like the fans, General Manager Randy Sexton has also shown his frustration. The comments he made to the media show how badly he wants things to change.

Thankfully, he's been given the green light by ownership to make trades that he feels are necessary, which is a little different than normal. Usually, we see the owners working with the GM to find players to bring to the team, but this time the owners are delegating most of those decisions to Sexton.

Believe it or not, the Panthers have a lot of options when making trades. They have plenty of prospects that they could send to other teams, and they also have the options of selling draft picks. However, their best bargaining chip lies in Steve Reinprecht.

Reinprecht is a 33-year-old center who has scored 13 goals this season and tallied 20 assists. He also owns the highest +/- rating on the team (+6), and is one of only six players on the team with a positive +/- rating. Recently, he hasn't been producing as much, but he has still been a nice surprise for the Panthers. Then again, nobody on the team has.

With that said, he is also the most reasonable player to trade. He could bring some much needed depth to the team. If Florida starts to fall short of playoff contention, then they have the option of getting some prospects for Reinprecht. These prospects would be expected to play on the second or third lines, and would play a big role in fixing the depth problem the Panthers are having.

Although the Panthers are giving up a solid player in Reinprecht, they would be making a great stride towards improving their depth in the future. After all, that is the area that they need to improve the most.

However, the biggest opportunity the Panthers will have to create future depth is the draft. This could be another thing that they trade Reinprecht for. By trading Reinprecht for draft picks, the Panthers would be able to decide which player(s) would fit best on their team.

Either one of these choices would be a benefit for the team. Any player they choose has to be to be able to play under Horton and Weiss, who have already proven that they're the future of the Florida Panthers. These players could easily come in a trade involving Reinprecht. Although, there is still a long way to go after that.

See more of Eric's NHL opinions at Tips for Hockey