Florida Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk has had a long road to travel on, before he had become a pool worthy defenseman in the NHL, but finally, through injuries and other career setbacks, he managed to get himself into the conversation for a hockey pool spot last season and possibly even draft worthy this coming fall.
On Thursday, the restricted free agent re-signed with the Florida Panthers, earning a 3-year, $8.2 million deal and he is now back in the fold of a slowly blooming, yet potent Florida blueline.
In all 82 games played, the 25-year old scored 4 goals and 17 points, good enough for a tie for 100th on the blueline for points, but simple tie-breakers had him down in 102nd, not a far cry at all.
With Keith Yandle and Jason Demers taking care of the experience and Aaron Ekblad and Michael Matheson adding the youthful exuberance, it's down to the guys like Pysyk and Alex Petrovic to be the glue on this blueline, holding everything together. It's a group with a solid dynamic, all six aren't afraid to mix it up physically and they are all bringing something to the table at the offensive end of the ice. It may only be a matter of time before this group earns some high praise for coming together and being an exceptional unit.
|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||Mark Pysyk||2.733|
|Evgeny Dadonov||4.000||Alex Petrovic||1.850|
|Radim Vrbata||2.500||Michael Matheson||0.925|
|Derek MacKenzie||1.375||Ian McCoshen||0.925|
Florida's cap situation may only be considered to be "alright" at the moment, because with their current roster, it's not exactly blowing anyone away and the team only has $6.4 million left in space underneath the ceiling, so any improvements are going to be picking away at an already smallish number. On the plus side, they do have all of their key restricted free agents taken care of now and they have already made their splashes in the unrestricted market, so it may just be checking to see what their youth are going to bring before they spend any more.
Florida's top six forwards, top six defense and goaltending tandem are looking pretty decent, enough to really compete in the Atlantic Division and possibly do well. They will suffer, however, when their depth gets tested on the road, especially through Metropolitan and Central Division road trips. Ekblad is going to have to show an elite level again, while Barkov will have to make that jump into the elite class, before we can start talking long playoff runs or anything, but it could very well be coming. I could find a few good hockey pool picks here, if I needed to as well.