The Florida Panthers have signed former San Jose Sharks forward Rudolfs Balcers to a one-year deal worth $750,000.
Balcers had 11 goals and 23 points in 61 games last season before getting bought out prior to the opening of free agency.
An NHL scout from an outside organization told Sheng Peng at San Jose Hockey Now recently (and presciently): “I actually see [Balcers] as a little bit of what’s wrong with the Sharks. Not necessarily him as a player. But I think they fall too in love with their guys. Like they prioritize the fact that he came from them, getting him back on waivers, instead of simply getting a better player instead.
“Right now, on a championship-caliber team, he’s a fourth-liner.”
In Florida, that may be the role he is given, or, he could be another comeback story like Carter Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair.
Balcers had issues scoring goals last year in San Jose, hitting the post the second-most times on the team per SJHN.
“All year, I’ve had chances,” he pointed out. “There’s 20-plus goals this year if they go in.”
Maybe a change of scenery can give him a confidence boost.
With the Panthers losing Mason Marchment and Claude Giroux in free agency and Anthony Duclair to injury, there may be an avenue for him to carve out a bigger role.
“Rudolfs is a hard-working playmaker who competes with pace and skill,” said Panthers general manager Bill Zito. “His energy and competitiveness will complement our lineup well.”