In the midst of their push for top spot in the Eastern Conference, Panthers General Manager Brock Otten took time out of his busy day to announce a few big signings by the team. With nearly half the team's current roster needing a new contract, there's no doubt that Otten has been quite busy wining and dining the Swingstein agency.
First was the avoidance of the dreaded RFA process with star winger Zach Parise, as he signed a new one year contract for next year. Parise has been an MVP candidate in the HFNHL this year. Terms were not released.
Second was a new four year contract with top six winger Patrick Sharp, that will pay Sharp an average of 5.9 million over that term.
The team also locked up their current star studded number one defense unit of Andrei Markov and Robyn Regehr. Markov re-upped for two years, while Regehr was resigned for just one more year. Terms were not released for both.
Pesky winger Cal Clutterbuck also re-signed a new contract, one year in length. He's been a quality 3rd/4th liner for the team this season.
The last big piece was the re-signing of offensive defenseman Marc Andre Bergeron on a one year deal.
Also re-upping were youngsters Mark Olver and Jake Muzzin, but they've had little impact on the team this season.
It's believed that the team will be letting veterans Ed Jovonovski, Mike Knuble, BJ Crombeen, Dan Ellis, Scott Nichol, and Jeff Finger walk at the end of the year.
But what do all these big signings really mean? The team will have massive holes to fill next season and not a ton of money to do it. This has lead to speculation that they may look at moving a top young forward like the aforementioned Parise (or Mike Richards, James Neal, etc) in exchange for a package of younger, cheaper players. They will likely also have to look into moving a higher priced defenseman to get younger, such as two-way veteran leader Mark Streit.
Needless to say, it will be an interesting offseason in Florida. For now the team is focused on taking top spot in the Eastern Conference.
5 vs 5 Forward
Center -Left Wing - Right Wing
1 Jiri Hudler -Magnus Paajarvi -Linus Omark
2 Nate Thompson -Erik Condra - Andrew Gordon
3 Corey Elkins -Vladimir Zharkov -Wojtek Wolski
4 Andrew Cogliano -Taylor Hall - Mason Raymond
5 vs 5 Defense
1 Drew Doughty - Francois Beauchemin
2 Adam McQuaid - Andrej Meszaros
3 Brett Carson - Bryan McCabe
4 Drew Doughty -Brett Carson