The Florida Panthers were busy on Saturday, making a handful of signings, but most notably, the Panthers got pool worthy veteran forward Radim Vrbara on a 1-year deal and they signed KHL All-Star forward Evgeny Dadonov to a 3-year deal.
Vrbata wasn't part of the youth movement going forward in Arizona, so he was not re-signed after his second stint with the Coyotes, even though he gave them a pretty good season. The 36-year old scored 20 goals and 55 points in 81 games for the Coyotes and he will now take that production to Florida, where he'll have an annual cap hit of $2.5 million and also be in line for upwards of another $1 million in bonuses.
Dadonov, 28, was drafted by the Panthers back in 2007, but could never really get any traction with the team in his youth. After his entry-level deal expired, he went back to Russia and the KHL, where his game improved year-after-year and in the 2017 with St. Petersburg, he scored 30 goals and 66 points in 53 games. Now, he returns to the Panthers as a better veteran player and he'll try to make a better impression on the NHL, now that he has conquered the KHL.
Vrbata should be a good add to this team, which parted ways with another veteran great in Jaromir Jagr, while Dadonov is a worth while gamble, especially given his numbers in Russia. It's hard to say where they'd fit in exactly at the moment, but they certainly don't look out of place on the projected roster below.
|Aleksander Barkov||5.900||Aaron Ekblad||7.500||Roberto Luongo||4.533|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||5.900||Keith Yandle||6.350||James Reimer||3.400|
|Vincent Trocheck||4.750||Jason Demers||4.500|
|Nick Bjugstad||4.100||Alex Petrovic||1.850|
|Evgeny Dadonov||4.000||Michael Matheson||0.925|
|Radim Vrbata||2.500||Ian McCoshen||0.925|
|Derek MacKenzie||1.375||Michael Downing||0.820|
The Florida Panthers are also showing some good flexibility in the early parts of this free agency period. Their current cap hit is sitting at $66.7 million with a full 23-man roster above. I would expect some of those young names to possibly flip over before the end of the summer, but they are all rocking some higher end entry-level deals, so the flexibility does remain, when adding more seasoned talent to the roster.
Injuries devastated the Panthers in the 2017 season, so now they'll be coming out from the shadows a little bit in the 2018 season and if their potential can be realized, thanks to their veteran additions, they could be a very fun team to watch and pick from in the hockey pool draft. I would be keeping a close eye on these Panthers through the rest of the off-season, they've got room to move and a good core that could use some touching up.