Along with the minor signing of defenseman Ethan Prow, General Manager Dale Tallon also signed defenseman Tommy Cross during the free agency period.
The Cross contract is essentially a bargain deal for a depth defenseman, as he was signed to a two year, two-way contract worth $700K per season.
The 29-year-old defenseman was previously selected by the Boston Bruins with the 35th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Level Draft. Cross would spend the following four seasons playing for Boston College, where he would develop into a well-rounded, two-way defenseman.
Cross never truly received an opportunity in the NHL, as the former second-round draft choice played the majority of his career for the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.
The former Boston College Captain appeared in only three NHL contests, recording 1 point and a -1 rating for the Bruins during the 2015-16 NHL season.
However, Cross has established himself as a premier two-way defenseman in the AHL for the past few seasons. Cross’s AHL career truly took off during the 2016-17 season for the Providence Bruins.
The United States native participated in 74 AHL games, producing a solid slash line of 12 goals and 23 assists for 35 total points. Furthermore, Cross was reliable defensively, as he accumulated a marvelous plus/minus rating of +18.
Cross would experience a career year during the 2017-18 AHL campaign for the Providence Bruins. While taking action in 73 contests, the dynamic offensive defenseman recorded 8 goals and 28 assists for 36 points.
Moreover, he registered an absolutely absurd +30 rating on the season, standing out as a top-two defenseman for Providence.
The Hartford native would eventually depart the Providence Bruins during the 2018 offseason for the Cleveland Monsters. Cross would continue playing quite admirably at the AHL level despite the change of scenery.
While suiting up in 73 contests, Cross would record a superb slash line of 7 goals and 27 assists for 34 combined points. Additionally, Cross added a goal and two assists in eight playoff games for the Cleveland Monsters, as well.
While Tommy Cross likely won’t crack the opening night lineup for the Florida Panthers, he could serve a critical role for the Springfield Thunderbirds as a top-pairing defenseman.
In hindsight, he provides the Panthers with another depth defenseman if a defender on their active roster goes down with an injury or develops poor form.
Overall, the Tommy Cross signing was a quality depth move made by Dale Tallon. This acquisition essentially improves the defensive depth of the Florida Panthers and roster of the Springfield Thunderbirds all at once. Welcome to the Florida Panthers, Tommy Cross!