Panthers may stay with Belfour
Regarding goaltending, the Panthers have an interest in re-signing Ed Belfour (27-17-10, 2.77 goals-against average), and there's a decent chance that will happen. Management wasn't bothered by his request for a raise from $750,000 or his stated desire to remain a starter.
But before committing to Belfour, the Panthers will consider at least two other scenarios: 1) Free agent Jean Sebastien-Giguere (36-10-8, 2.26). The Panthers expect Anaheim will re-sign him and don't want to enter a bidding war. 2) Exploring a trade with San Jose for Evgeni Nabokov (25-16-4, 2.29) or Vesa Toskala (26-10-1, 2.35). Nabokov has the much larger contract.
Toskala and Giguere (both 30) and Nabokov (31) are much younger than Belfour, 42. But the Panthers prefer Belfour over Minnesota's Manny Fernandez, 32 (who asked to be traded) and Phoenix free agent Curtis Joseph, 40.
As for the news that Belfour's set to return to Miami: As well as he played last season, this is a mistake. The Panthers have to get some young blood into all areas of their roster and develop from within, rebuild around Nathan Horton and Jay Bouwmeester and do it quickly before they reach unrestricted free agency at 25 or 26.
This year isn't going to be a winning season for the Panthers, not with moves like this being made, and you have to imagine Olli Jokinen is regretting his decision to stick around while Roberto Luongo jumped ship.
Coach/GM Jacques Martin's no dummy, but he is new to the manager's role, and if there are any growing pains, it's going to be ugly in south Florida. Again.