Panthers ink ‘reliable, physical’ Gudbranson to one year, $3.5M deal

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The Florida Panthers retained another key contributor on Monday, agreeing to a one-year, $3.5 million extension with RFA blueliner Erik Gudbranson.

(Financial terms via Sportsnet.)

“We are very pleased to have signed Erik,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon said in a release. “He is an important part of our young core who has continued to develop into a reliable, physical presence on our blue line and a strong leader in our locker room.”

Gudbranson, 24, scored nine points in 64 games with the Panthers this season, and appeared in all six playoff games. While he’s failed to materialize into the star defenseman some envisioned when he went third overall in 2010 — the first d-man off the board — Gudbranson has managed to effectively utilize his size (6-foot-5, 216 pounds) and finished third on the team in hits this year, with 150.

As for the contract itself, the one year term might come as a bit of a surprise. Earlier today, the Sun-Sentinel reported the two sides were working on a multi-year deal, so it’s unclear what happened there.

Florida is reportedly undergoing a shift in its front office and hockey operations department, which could have played a role in Gudbranson’s short-term extension.

Last week, the club inked 44-year-old leading scorer Jaromir Jagr to a one-year deal as well. It should be noted these two one-year deals wouldn’t have anything to do with each other — Jagr has almost exclusively played on single-season contracts since coming back from the KHL.