1. Florida Panthers
Friedman named the Panthers as a team with interest in Malkin, and Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey Now has suggested rumors of Florida’s interest are real. With the hiring of Joel Quenneville as head coach, the Panthers are suddenly an appealing destination entering an interesting offseason with some big moves on their radar.
Malkin has a home in Florida, and no state income tax adds to the idea he’d waive his no-move clause to land with the Panthers. If the Panthers want to lure free agent Artemi Panarin, who played for Quenneville in Chicago, adding a countryman in Malkin would only help that cause. Panarin can, for his part if it’s even necessary, sell Malkin on playing for Quenneville.
Any trade for Malkin would require Florida to part with a notable veteran piece, along with a draft pick or a prospect. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad is one possibility, along with center Vincent Trochek and winger Jonathan Huberdeau. Center Aleksander Barkov is a possibility too, but he’s probably a non-starter for the Panthers.
The Panthers have increased their expectations and level of urgency by hiring Quenneville. To that end, they have to be exploring what it would take to get Malkin.