The Florida Panthers were quite busy on Thursday. Not only did the team officially buyout the final two years of Keith Yandle’s contract, but they signed restricted free agents Anthony Duclair and Gus Forsling to three-year contract extensions as well.
Both players will now be protected from the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft.
Duclair, 25, signed a one-year “prove it” deal with the Panthers during the offseason after he was not tendered by Ottawa.
Although Duclair only scored 10 goals with the Panthers last season, he was a big part of the top line’s success and showed he had an affect regardless of which line he was put on.
“Anthony brought great speed and skill to our club this season,” Bill Zito said in a statement announcing the deal.
“We look forward to seeing him continue to be a creative playmaker for us on the ice and a valuable member of our community. We are thrilled to have him as a part of the Panthers family for years to come.”
The Panthers, Duclair said before the 2021 season started, were a perfect fit for him after he has bounced around the league a little bit.
Now, it appears Duclair has found a home in South Florida.
“I think we’re a pretty deceiving team from the outside looking in,’’ Duclair said during training camp. “There is a lot of talent on this team, another level we can reach. We want to be a competitive team right off the bat.”
By signing a three-year contract, Florida secures two of Duclair’s unrestricted free agent years.
As for Forsling, Florida was able to come to a deal with him after cutting ties with Yandle and thereby being able to protect a third defenseman from Seattle.
Forsling, also 25, came to the Panthers off the waiver wire as he was cut loose by Carolina during training camp and snapped up by Florida.
The Panthers dug what Forsling brought from the start as he was quickly placed in a top-four role — and was up on the top pairing with MacKenzie Weegar when Aaron Ekblad got hurt in March.
Forsling played in 43 regular season games scoring five goals with 17 points. In the playoffs, he had a goal and an assist.
“After joining the Panthers in January, Gustav had a career season setting personal records and establishing his defensive game to bolster our blueline,” Zito said.
“We are looking forward to watching him continue to develop his game with our club.”
Here is how Forsling’s contract will break down per Puckpedia.com. Duclair is getting $3 million per season on his new deal.
Florida is also working to re-sign RFA Sam Bennett as well.