Do the “Happy Dance” boys and girls! An official announcement was made today just after the final session of development camp had ended, that the Florida Panthers have signed first round pick (number 3 overall) from 2010, Erik Gudbranson to an entry level contract. The speculation, worry, and doubt can all be erased as once again general manager Dale Tallon continued to keep his word, and signed the big defenceman. And I do mean big. And he’s going to be mean!
While Erik performed well enough last season in training camp to get at least a 10 game look, the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a deal, and the huge defencemen was sent back to juniors where he just dominated. He came to camp this year even more poised than last, and had a spectacular three days of which I saw first hand this morning. I could not believe the growth and maturity in just one season. He’s bigger in size, and while listed at 6’4″, he seems to tower over everyone. He’s fast, he’s agile, and you can see the look of determination in his face.
There’s going to be stiff competition for Erik to make the team, and this contract signing doesn’t guarantee anything. With Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Dmitry Kulikov, Mike Weaver, and Jason Garrison all virtually having a spot locked up, it would appear that Erik’s competition is going to come from Keaton Ellerby, and barring a trade of one of those players to make room, I cannot imagine him being sent back to juniors for another season. There is absolutely nothing to gain from that, and physically he will annihilate any player that dares to go into a corner for a puck. His physical presence was seen, heard, and felt today as he “labeled” about three or four players with solid hits, showing that he’s going to play to his size.
Someone had asked me on Twitter today if there’s any comparison between Erik and Jay Bouwmeester. Not a chance. Two completely different players, two completely different styles. One thing for certain, in my opinion. Erik is far more advanced, and with his physicality alone, he’ll be a better all around defenceman than Jay Bo.
I have said from day one when they drafted this kid that he can’t miss. There should be many NHL players that will need to be aware of Erik when he’s on the ice. He won’t miss you either! The last time I was this excited about a player was waaaaay back in 1988 when another young baby faced kid by the name of Jeremy Roenick emerged on the scene in Chicago.
Good luck Erik. We are so glad that this portion of the situation has been put to rest. Good luck with the next step which is making team. I have all the confidence in the world that you’ll give new head coach Kevin Dineen every reason in the world to keep you here!
Please visit our NHL main page: Too Many Men On The Site.
Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht @joshluecht, Adam Reid @AdamReid, and Patrick McLaughlin @patrckmclaughln. Also, please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and make some comments.
Want The Rat Trick on your smartphone? Download the app and get the best in Florida Panthers coverage.