The Florida Panthers did not take long in making sure Anton Lundell would indeed be part of their 2021-22 team by signing the rookie center to his three-year entry level contract on Monday.
Lundell, who has spent the past three seasons playing professionally in Finland’s Liiga, was Florida’s top pick of the 2020 NHL Draft going 12th overall.
Florida GM Bill Zito said last week that there was “a plan,’’ when it came to Lundell. If not, “I’m going to go get him myself.”
Turns out, he didn’t have to hop on a plane to Helsinki after all.
Lundell, who helped Finland win Silver at the IIHF World Championships on Sunday, said when he was drafted that Sasha Barkov is one of his favorite players.
“I was really excited to be drafted by the Panthers,” Lundell said. “I know the Finnish players there and have been following them.”
The Panthers plan on having Lundell speak to the South Florida media on Wednesday afternoon.
The 19-year-old is not only expected to be with the Panthers this coming season, but he may play a key role in Florida. He is projected to be Florida’s No. 2 center behind Barkov moving forward — if not now, but soon enough.
Florida is trying to hold on to free agent Alex Wennberg and restricted free agent Sam Bennett for next season as well. If Zito is able to do that, Florida’s center depth — with Lundell in the mix — appears to be pretty deep.
“Anton is a cerebral, skilled and dynamic young player who continuously established himself in Finland’s top league and played a pivotal role on Finland’s national teams at all levels,” Zito said in Florida’s statement Monday.
“Anton’s maturity, compete level and sound two-way ability are exciting qualities to add to our organization. We are thrilled to have signed Anton and look forward to his future with the Florida Panthers for years to come.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS LINKS
The Athletic looks at who the Panthers may keep when it comes time for the Seattle Expansion Draft.
I have some thoughts on this as well, obviously. Stay tuned. (TA)
— Randy Moller and Katie Gaus welcome Kevin Weekes onto their podcast. (Florida Panthers)
— Zach Hyman, former Florida prospect, is about to cash in. (Calgary Sun)
AROUND THE NHL
Tyler Toffoli scored early into overtime as the Montreal Canadiens beat Winnipeg 3-2 to pull off the sweep in Round 2.
The Canadiens, not exactly highly-regarded when these playoffs started, are now headed to the semifinals.
Montreal will play either Vegas or Colorado in the Final Four. (SportsNet)
— The Bruins pulled Tuukka Rask but still pulled within a goal before losing to the Islanders — who now lead that series 3-2. (BHN)
— And the Isles get to play Game 6 with a chance to advance to the NHL semifinals at the Coliseum. (NYIHN)
— Are the Penguins looking for goalie help? Probably. (PHN)
— The Avs are tied with Vegas 2-2 in their series but are in trouble. (CHN)
— Could Seth Jones end up with Colorado? (Ottawa Sun)
— Detroit has itself some pretty good looking prospects. (DHN)
The Miami Marlins weren’t able to string along a second consecutive win and end this long roadie 1-8 after losing at Fenway on Monday. (Miami Herald)
— Yes, Nick Saban left the Dolphins to coach Alabama after saying there was no way he was doing that. The dislike of Coach Nick has waned over the years — for some, apparently. (MH)
— Greg Cote says Lionel Messi to Inter Fort Lauderdale/Miami would be great news for David Beckham. (MH)
— There was a boxing match in Miami on Sunday. Don’t know if you heard. (MH)
— Pat Riley wishes Danny Ainge all the best as he talks to Dan Le Batard. (Sentinel)