The Florida Panthers announced the deserving contract extension of defenseman Mark Pysyk on July 6th in the afternoon.
Both sides agreed on a deal that would pay Mark an annual average salary of 2.7 million over the next 3 seasons. Despite being labeled as a 3rd pairing defenseman, Mark is arguably the most solid defensive d-man on the Cats. The Panthers conceived a barrage of goals throughout the 2016-17 season, but Mark Pysyk stood out above the rest as he totaled 72 impactful hits and an impressive 99 blocked shots.
He also experienced a breakout season offensively as he registered a career high 4 goals, 13 assists and 17 points (all even strength). He proved to be the Cats most reliable and dependable defenseman as he played in all 82 regular season games in a tumultuous season which saw Aaron Ekblad and recently signed Alex Petrovic battle injuries throughout the course of the year.
Due to these unfortunate injuries, Mark took on a more prominent role as his average TOI (time on ice) sparked up from 15:54 during 2015-16 to 18:34 in the 2016-17 campaign. Pysyk’s ATOI increased by 2:40 minutes and he didn’t fail to disappoint, as he formed a formidable duo with Alex Petrovic.
He is worth every penny of his new extension due to his ability to maintain his composure on the ice when battling opposing supreme forwards. He’s an outstanding puck mover, as shown by his 13 assists. Mark is also unafraid to jump in on a play occasionally as some of his goals have resulted in his positioning in front of the net. Pysyk will ultimately see his minutes increase as the Panthers, led by defensive minded Head Coach Bob Boughner, will rely more heavily on Mark especially if Ekblad experiences another setback due to his severe concussion history.
Not only does Mark provide stability to the blue line, but he also creates a plethora of scoring opportunities with his laser vision and precise passing abilities on the offensive end. Look for Pysyk to be paired with Ekblad in order to take pressure off Aaron’s shoulder on the defensive end. This will allow Aaron to produce more offensively.
Panthers GM Dale Tallon essentially chose to protect Mark Pysyk over other impactful forwards on the roster during the expansion draft process because of Mark’s contributions to the team, offensively and most notably defensively. Dale views Pysyk as an irreplaceable player on the team, which primarily led to Dale committing to Mark for the next 3 seasons at a relatively inexpensive cost. Many may view this signing as a bargain due to Mark being a stable on the back end for the foreseeable future. At 25 years of age, he still has plenty of room to grow and ultimately develop into a potential star defender for the Cats.
Overall, the Florida Panthers made a wise investment in retaining the consistent, respectable Mark Pysyk, as he’ll certainly look to make a more significant impact for the Cats next season.