"It was a series that the differential through seven games was one goal. That's tough to take. . . . It was disappointing but bittersweet," Tallon said. "We had a great season but that was a tough one to lose. We'll use this as a motivator for next year. Our players realize how close they were and regret not scoring that goal to get us to the next series. We're not satisfied."
Tallon's focus will now shift to the draft next month and the free agency period, which opens July 1.
Although the GM is not expected to be as busy as he was last summer when he signed several free agents to completely remake the roster, Tallon will make some tweaks as the core will stay intact and coach Kevin Dineen will remain behind the bench.
"Familiarity is key," forward Stephen Weiss told the Herald, "and we haven't had that. The guys know what to expect, what is expected of us. We have the type of group in here that's not satisfied. I'm looking forward to next year and going above and beyond what we did this year."
However, Tallon does need to make some decision about his pending free agents. Backup netminder Scott Clemmensen is an unrestricted free agent, as are Jason Garrison, Krys Barch, John Madden, Mikael Samuelsson and Wojtek Wolski.
First-line winger Kris Versteeg is a restricted free agent, and Tallon stated that he and Garrison are his top priorities this summer.
"We want to keep the team together," Tallon said. "We're going to start talking to agents now and sign the guys we need to get signed. They want to be here and we want them here."
The change of culture in Florida, created by the Panthers' winning ways that erase the talk of the team missing the playoffs for an NHL-record 10 seasons, could lead the club to become a destination point for free agents.
However, the Panthers aren't expected to be in the running for big free agents such as Devils sniper Zach Parise or Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, though they have money under the salary cap.