The decision to select Finnish teen center Sasha Barkov with their second pick in Sunday's NHL Draft may have had a domino effect as the Panthers showed they were willing to part ways with two of their four starting centers from last season in Peter Mueller and franchise stalwart Stephen Weiss.

On Tuesday, Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon made qualifying offers to six restricted free agents before the 5 p.m., deadline, including starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom and blossoming forward Shawn Matthias.

Also tendered offers were mostly minor leaguers in San Antonio, including center Scott Timmins, forward Jon Rheault as well as defensemen Michael Caruso and Colby Robak. However, Rheault, who made his NHL debut with the Panthers last season with no points in five games, has signed with Adler-Mannheim of Germany.

Other teams can sign these players to offer sheets, but the Panthers now can match the offer or acquire draft picks if they don't, depending on the RFA's respective salaries.

The most surprising omission was Mueller, who after his promising careeer was derailed by a series of concussions, seemed to find a home in Sunrise. He was the fulcrum of the Panthers' top line for the first half of the lockout-condensed season, skating between talented rookies Jonathan Huberdeau and Drew Shore.

Tallon said the door isn't closed on Mueller's return, but his $1.7 million expiring contract from last season is locked in by the CBA for a huge raise and may be too steep for the economically challenged Panthers.