Panthers GM: No fire sale as trade deadline nears

Coral Springs Panthers General Manager Randy Sexton said Saturday that he has moved closer to making a number of possible trades, but stressed he’s not auctioning off players between now and Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline.

“Make no mistake — there will be no fire sale,” Sexton said.

There are plenty of opportunities, though.

“We’re discussing a whole host of deals — some of which include draft picks, some of which include NHL players, some of which include some combination,” he said.

The team’s new majority co-owners, Stu Siegel and Cliff Viner, wrote in a letter to fans before the Olympic break that the team requires “reshaping” and “significant change,” a strong indication that the Panthers, who’ve lost six consecutive games, will be sellers.

Sexton made one trade before the Olympic break’s roster freeze, sending center Dominic Moore to Montreal for a second-round pick in 2011. He said he’s been busy on the phone with other general managers the past week after little activity the week before.

As for pulling the trigger by Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline, “I don’t feel like I have to make X number of deals. What I want are the right deals that will reposition our team for where we’re going.”

Sexton said his makeover plan for the roster involves four phases.

“Phase 1 is until Wednesday. Phase 2 is the draft. Phase 3 is free agency. Phase 4 is right around training camp, start of regular season,” he said. “So if somebody loves what we do [by Wednesday], great. But if they don’t like what we do, bear in mind it’s only the first step of four key steps to get the team we have on the ice next season.”

Whether you ask Sexton, coach Pete DeBoer or defenseman Keith Ballard, they’ll tell you the Panthers have lacked an identity all season. That’s “No. 1 for me, at the top of the list” of necessary fixes, DeBoer said.

“There are some nights we’re hard to play against and play the way I envision this group playing, but we don’t do it consistently enough,” he said. “We have to really grab an identity of what kind of team we are and how we want to play – win or lose.”

Added Sexton: “The guys we have here are character guys, but at times we’re too small, at times we’re too uncompetitive and sometimes we play a little too soft. And that’s got to change.”,0,2655784.story