SUNRISE, Fla. — A few hours into free agency, Florida general manager Dale Tallon essentially sounded resigned to the fact that there would be no big splash to make this year.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t try to shake up the Panthers’ roster.
The Panthers bought out the contract of right wing Brad Boyes on Wednesday, added five players shortly after the NHL free agency period opened and then picked up forward Reilly Smith in a trade with the Boston Bruins in exchange for forward Jimmy Hayes.
“We are pleased to welcome Reilly to the Panthers,” Tallon said. “Reilly is a young and talented forward who adds skill, speed and versatility to our team.”
In the trade, the Panthers also acquired the contract of forward Marc Savard. He last appeared in the NHL in 2011 because of concussion-related issues and is owed $575,000 for each of the next two seasons.
Smith has appeared in 203 games with Boston and Dallas, scoring 36 goals and adding 64 assists for 100 points. He had 13 goals and 27 assists last season, plus had four goals and an assist in 12 playoff games.
Hayes had 19 goals and 16 assists for Florida this past season. In parts of four seasons with the Panthers and Chicago, Hayes has 36 goals and 30 assists in 168 games.
“We thank Jimmy for his contributions to the Panthers and wish him the best of luck in Boston,” Tallon said.
It wasn’t a shock that the Panthers didn’t make huge free-agent moves as they did when the NHL shopping window opened last season, since there were very few opportunities to do so in this class.
And the Panthers made their big move late last season, getting Jaromir Jagr from New Jersey and subsequently signing him for this coming season.
“To overpay and block some of our young guys, it didn’t make sense,” Tallon said. “Not a real strong free-agent market. … We think we have a very good young team. We’ll be quicker and more skilled and that’s what we’re all about.”
Boyes was put on waivers earlier in the week and bought out Wednesday once he cleared. He had 21 goals for the Panthers two seasons ago, but dropped to just 14 goals in 78 games this past season.
“Brad did a nice job for us two years ago and last year was a struggle,” Tallon said. “We just felt we wanted to make some room.”
The Panthers signed goalie Mike McKenna to a two-year, two-way contract. McKenna spent last season with Portland of the AHL, and is 5-11-2 with a 3.48 goals-against average in limited NHL action with Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Columbus and Arizona.
Defenceman Cameron Gaunce, who has played in 20 games with Dallas and Colorado, also was signed to a one-year, two-way deal Wednesday. Another defenceman, Brent Regner, got a two-year, two-way contract.
“The additions of Gaunce and Regner help to further strengthen our organization’s blue line,” Tallon said.
“Gaunce is a strong, hardworking, physical defenceman and Regner is a responsible, mobile two-way defenceman who can play both on the power play and penalty kill.”
Forward Shane Harper and defenceman Sena Acolatse were signed to one-year, two-way deals. Neither has appeared in an NHL regular-season game.
“We like our team,” Tallon said. “It’s a good team.”