What Will Bill Zito Do In Florida?
Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic: The Florida Panthers expected to be better this season with a more experienced coach in Paul Maurice. They traded for Mathew Tkachuk and figured the goals would keep coming. Goals dropped and goals allowed stayed almost the same. Now, there are more problems.
Florida still faces an uphill battle despite going 7-2-1 over their previous ten games. Though the Panthers are just two points out of a playoff spot, Pittsburgh enjoys three games in hand. Washington is five points ahead as of press time with 34 games left.
Zito knows the clock is ticking. It is getting early fast. Florida knows every game is like a playoff game at this point. Those feelings will only intensify after the All-Star Break. Florida needs more saves, but need better defensive consistency and help.
Keep an eye on injuries. Aaron Ekblad went down to injury again on Saturday. If he misses any significant time, Bill Zito likely has to do something earlier and sooner. If not, Zito still understands survival hockey means one thing. If his team does not make the playoffs, the general manager may not survive himself.
Expect Zito and Florida to battle like hell to make the playoffs. Cap space remains tough with $6.5 million in dead-cap money. However, a move is more likely than not. Again, Zito’s fate is potentially tied to getting to the second season.
Cole Caufield And The Next Deal?
Sean Farrell of NHL.com: So, with Cole Caufield out for the rest of the season, Montreal focuses on the next deal. Kent Hughes wants to extend Caufield, who led Montreal with 26 goals before the injury last week.
Now, Caufield is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The two parties appear amicable to a longer-term deal. What could such a deal entail? That seems to be unknown. However, no one will be surprised when a new contract comes not if.
These are just the first steps with Montreal. Expect trades and extensions. Let the shuffling begin!