Tallon eager to add more pieces to young core

TORONTO -- Talking about the Draft seems to bring out the best in Panthers GM Dale Tallon.


"I like to have fun at the Draft and I like to be creative at the Draft," he told today in the lobby of the Bristol Westin Place.


He's certainly had a lot of it. Last year's draft, his first with the team, saw him make 13 picks, including three in the first round and three in the second round. The Panthers have 10 picks this year, including seven in the first three rounds, and Tallon said he wants more.


"If we can achieve that and get a couple more picks this year, that would give us 24, 25 picks in a year -- that's like four drafts," he said. "That really can set us up or the future and give us a strong foundation. That's what we're doing."


The Panthers will start with the third pick for the second straight year. Last year's pick, Erik Gudbranson, had a shot to play in the NHL, but was returned to Kingston of the OHL when he and the team couldn't agree on a deal. He had 34 points and 105 penalty minutes in 44 games, and 5 points in seven games for Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship.


Tallon said he expects Gudbranson to be in South Florida to start 2011-12.


"We're happy with this development and we'll get him taken care of in the next little while, get him signed up," Tallon said. "He's a big part of our future. He's a core guy for us. He's got captaincy-type material as far as character on and off the ice. We think he's going to be a great player for us."


Tallon said he expects to get another great player with the third pick this year, and his track record shows he's right -- besides Gudbranson, he also drafted Jonathan Toews with the third pick of the 2006 Entry Draft when he was GM in Chicago. However, he said he hopes it's the last time he's in that position.


"I don't want to be picking there ever again, unless we get it in a trade," he said. "We need to start moving up the ladder. Been at the front row enough, it was nice being in the back row. That's the goal."


Tallon said he has a player in mind for the No. 3 pick, but wasn't giving out too much information. He also talked about the ongoing coaching search and how active the Panthers might be in free agency. I'll have all that in a story this week for, so check back often (ED NOTE: drop link to story here, please).


One last note on the coaching search: Tallon said he hopes a new bench boss in place soon. He said the reason it hasn't happened already is the sheer volume of applicants for the position.


"The good thing is we have a lot of guys that want to come to Florida and see us turn this around," he said. "That's the good news."


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