The Florida Panthers added some veteran experience on defense Tuesday, signing Greg Zanon to a one-year, two-way deal.
Zanon, 34, spent last season with Florida’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio. It marked a bit of a fall from grace — prior to that, Zanon had appeared in 44 of 48 games for Colorado during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and, from 2008-11, played in 245 of 246 games for the Predators and Wild.
All told, Zanon has nearly 500 games of NHL experience and 18 more in the playoffs. He’ll be looking to crack the Panthers lineup out of training camp and his experience could prove useful — with former captain Ed Jovanovski bought out of his contract, Florida now just has a pair of vets on defense (35-year-old Brian Campbell and 37-year-old Willie Mitchell) to go along with the kiddie corps: Erik Gudbranson (22), Alex Petrovic (22) Dylan Olsen (23) Colby Robak (24) and 18-year-old Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The Florida Panthers added another veteran with Stanley Cup pedigree on Tuesday afternoon, agreeing to terms with ex-Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell on a two-year, $8.5 million deal.
Mitchell, who won two Cups in Los Angeles, signified a trend for Florida — the deal came just hours after Panthers GM Dale Tallon brought aboard center Dave Bolland, who captured a pair of championships during his time in Chicago; Tallon also signed former Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton, who won Cups with the Bruins and Ducks.
As for Mitchell, the 37-year-old wasn’t out of work for long after Los Angeles decided to pass on his services. The club let Mitchell walk despite all he brought to the table — two years ago, he scored a career-high 24 points and averaged 25:19 TOI in the playoffs as the Kings won their first ever Cup; after missing the entire 2013 campaign with knee issues, Mitchell returned this season and was a regular fixture on the L.A. blueline, playing more than 20 minutes a night during the regular season before upping that to 22:20 in the playoffs (despite missing eight games with an undisclosed injury.)
In Florida, he’ll get a nice raise and be the veteran presence (presumably) replacing Ed Jovanovski, who was bought out of the final year of his contract. Mitchell, along with 35-year-old Brian Campbell, will be the resident greybeards on a blueline that features Erik Gudbranson (22), Dmitry Kulikov (23), Dylan Olsen (23), Alex Petrovic (22), Colby Robak (24) and 18-year-old Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The move will also reunite Mitchell with ex-Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. The pair joined Vancouver together in 2006-07 and spent four seasons together as teammates.
Ed Jovanovski’s time with the Florida Panthers is at an end.
George Richards of the Miami Herald reports the team has put Jovanovski, 38, on waivers for the purpose of buying him out. He has one year left on his contract worth $4.125 million against the cap.
Richards adds the team will likely use a compliance buyout so as to not have his cap hit against their payroll. The Panthers have two compliance buyouts to use.
Jovanovski’s history with the Panthers is long. He was the franchise’s No. 1 overall pick in 1994 and in his rookie season helped lead the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche. He played two different stints with the team over six-and-a-half seasons of his 18 NHL seasons.
At his age and after the production he had last season, you have to wonder if this might be it for “Jovocop.” After spending time in Vancouver and Phoenix as well as Florida, he’s seen a lot of action and had a miraculous comeback from a hip injury that nearly ended his career.