While we were discussing the merits of the Florida Panthers keeping first round pick Erik Gudbranson at the NHL-level or not, we seemed to overlook one important detail: that the two sides might not even make a deal.
The Florida Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov reports that the Panthers and Gudbranson did indeed fail to reach an agreement on a rookie contract, which means that the tough and talented defenseman will just go back to the junior level for the time being.
Gudbranson was a physical force at the blue line and rarely made rookie mistakes. The Panthers own his rights for another two years and will eventually sign him. GM Dale Tallon has pegged him as a future captain.
For now Gudbranson’s future, who despite earning a First Star in his first game when he scored a goal and notched an assist on his first two shots in a 4-1 win over Carolina, will be back in Kingston of the OHL where he was named captain when he was 16.
While I am in favor of Gudbranson gaining more experience and confidence before he enters the NHL, you have to wonder how much more he can prove in the OHL with Kingston. After all, he was a captain there at the age of 16, as Filakov pointed out.
Still, as long as the Panthers eventually sign the big blue liner to a deal, it will work itself out. It’s still a little surprising to hear that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, though. My guess is it might have come down to bonuses or incentives. Hopefully Gudbranson didn’t want a jar full of peanut M & M’s in his locker before every game, though, because that would be some serious diva behavior.