The Florida Panthers drafted defenseman Erik Gudbranson with the third overall selection at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft – and now, they’ve made sure that their highly drafted asset will be back for at least another year.
The Panthers confirmed on Monday afternoon that Gudbranson, who finished his 2015-16 campaign with two goals and nine points through 64 games played in the regular season, has been inked to a one year extension to carry him through the 2016-17 season. Per Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, the deal will pay Gudbranson $3.5 million, then expire at the end of the year.
As a former third overall pick, the Panthers would likely prefer to see the 24-year-old Ottawa native have more of an impact on the scoresheet before they bring him on with a deal that includes term, but a one year bridge is a smart way to give him that extra chance to prove himself.
With Gudbranson and Jagr both locked up recently by the Atlantic Division club, the Panthers have been smart and quick in their extension process. They’ve committed a combined $7.5 million to the two players, which brings their payroll for the upcoming season up to roughly $55.7 million for 33 contracts.
The question now will be whether or not the team is bringing backup goaltender Al Montoya back for the upcoming year, and how much RFA forward Vincent Trochek – who finished the year with 25 goals and 53 points in 76 games – will manage to get paid in his deal this summer.