Former divisional rival of the Florida Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes, locked up one of their young core players – Justin Faulk – to a long term extension. The 22-year old 2010-second round draft pick signed a six-year $29 million contract, making him the building block for the team’s blue line.
Panthers defenseman, and fellow 2010-draft pick, Erik Gudbranson is in the same boat as Faulk who is a pending restricted free agent and will be looking for a contract extension this offseason.
There is no hiding that the Panthers have big plans for their defenseman, with general manager Dale Tallon stating that Gudbranson is ‘likely going to be the captain of our team someday.’
Dale Tallon on Erik Gudbranson being an RFA: "He's not going anywhere. He is likely going to be the captain of our team some day."
— Ian Mendes (@ian_mendes) March 18, 2014
So since the Panthers already have big plans for him, does the Faulk contract do anything in regards to Gudbranson?
A $4.833 million cap hit is a modest hit for a defenseman that a team hopes to build their blueline around, but how about a defenseman that you plan to build your entire organization around?
Here is a look at how the two have compared their first three seasons in the NHL,
As you can see Faulk’s numbers has stayed pretty even throughout, even his point production. All though they are both players that the team wants to build around, they both play different styles of defense.
Faulk is the smooth skating-offensive minded defenseman, who already has two 20-point campaigns on his resume, and would have had a third if not for the lockout shortened season. Gudbranson is the big physical defenseman that punishes his opponents who go around his net.
As seen in the last two Norris Trophy winners (league’s top defenseman), this league is all about offense now, so any player that produces points will get the extra dollars, so the fact that Gudbranson only has 19-points to his credit won’t get him the same contract as Faulk.
The Panthers obviously have plans for Gudbranson, so signing him to a long term deal is a top priority. Faulk’s deal may not be something the Panthers use as a blueprint, but it certainly laid the groundwork on a possible deal.
Seeing as Faulk was selected to the Olympic team and has registered more career points – I don’t see Gudbranson coming close to Faulks $4.833 million cap hit but a deal right around an AAV of $4 million would be perfect. With all the extra cap room you can almost be bump it up an extra quarter of a million. Tallon has shown when he wants to lock up a defenseman he wants, he is going to do it (Brian Campbell when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks).
I wrote yesterday on how much the Panthers missed Gudbranson on the team’s road trip. They need that big body that can clear the front of the net and make life easier on goaltender Roberto Luongo, and the Panthers obviously believe he has what it takes to be the captain – so don’t be shy Florida, lock up Gudbranson. The groundwork has been set through the Faulk deal.
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