Back on June 25th, at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, the Canucks traded away Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, and their 1st round pick to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Keith Ballard and forward Victor Oreskovich. The Panthers turned that first round pick into Quinton Howden, waived Grabner out of training camp, then waived Bernier recently as well. Grabner got picked up by the Islanders and has scored 25 goals this season. Bernier cleared waivers and still plays for the team. All told, pretty poor return for the Panthers on Ballard; they clearly just saw the trade as a chance to clear salary. But the two teams were not finished.
As the start of the season approached, Mike Gillis called Florida again to make a couple minor moves. On October 6th, the Canucks acquired Andrew Peters for Darcy Hordichuk as the two teams switched enforcers. Peters subsequently retired from hockey, while Hordichuk is barely playing and has complained about his lack of ice time. Ah, the glamorous life of a second-tier enforcer. Then, on October 7th, they traded AHL defensemen, acquiring Nathan Paetsch for Sean Zimmerman. Difference is, Paetsch has actually played in the NHL before, while Zimmerman has been shuffled from Florida to Boston and finally to Anaheim at the trade deadline. In a marvelous coincidence, Zimmerman will join Paetsch with the Syracuse Crunch.
Finally, on February 28th at the trade deadline, the Canucks have acquired Chris Higgins from the Panthers for Evan Oberg and their 2013 3rd round pick. Starting from last year's draft, that's 4 trades with the Florida Panthers. The Canucks have only made 6 trades. All the deals with Florida have of course been made with Dale Tallon, the Canucks first ever draft choice.
Clearly, the Canucks and Panthers are trade buddies. But what is the cause? Is Tallon's number the first one listed on Gillis's cell phone? Are Tallon and Gillis bros? Will Doug Wilson be jealous?
Or is this something endemic to the Panthers and Canucks organizations as a whole? Two of the biggest Canuck trades in the last 20 years were the Bure trade in 1999 and the Luongo deal in 2006, both with the Florida Panthers. Are the two teams just well-suited for each other? Is it because Sunrise, FL and Vancouver, BC are so far apart? The Panthers are the furthest NHL team from the Canucks; does that distance help the two make deals, as the two teams subconsciously believe that they'll never have to see each other after a trade is made, like when an ex-girlfriend moves across the country?
In all honesty, I don't know. It could be a complete coincidence that the Canucks and Panthers have been rooting through each other's pockets for change this season. But with Tomas Vokoun becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer and Cory Schneider's trade value hitting new heights this season, don't be surprised if Gillis and Tallon cozy up to each other over the summer as well.