The latest with Bill Zito and Cole Caufield

What will Bill Zito do in Florida?

Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun: The Florida Panthers are expected to be better this season with a more experienced coach in Paul Morris. They traded for Matthew Tkachuk and figured the goals would keep coming. Goals went down and goals allowed were about the same. Now, there are more problems.

Florida still faces an uphill battle despite going 7-2-1 in their previous ten games. Although the Panthers are just two points out of a playoff spot, Pittsburgh enjoys three games in hand. Washington leads by five points as of press time with 34 games remaining.

Zito knows the clock is ticking. It’s getting early. Florida knows every game is like a playoff game at this point. Those feelings will intensify after the All-Star break. Florida needs more savings, but also needs better defensive consistency and support.

Watch for injuries. Aaron Ekblad He got injured again on Saturday. If he misses any significant time, Bill Zito will likely need to do something earlier and sooner. If not, Zito still understands survival hockey means one thing. A general manager can’t survive on his own if his team doesn’t make the playoffs.

Zito and Florida are expected to battle like hell for the playoffs. Cap space remains tight with $6.5 million in dead-cap money. However, a move is more likely than not. Again, Zito’s fate is likely tied to going into a second season.

Cole Caufield and the next deal?

Sean Farrell of So, with Cole Caufield Out for the rest of the season, Montreal is focused on the next deal. Kent Hughes wants to extend Caufield, who led Montreal with 26 goals last week before the injury.

Now, Caufield is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The two sides seem amicable for a long-term deal. What could such a deal be? It seems unknown. But no one will be surprised if there is no new contract.

These are the first steps with Montreal. Expect trades and extensions. Let the randomness begin!

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