During the period of suspended action across the league due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Florida Panthers and D John Ludvig reached an agreement on a three-year, entry-level contract.
The 19-year-old defenseman was previously drafted by the Florida Panthers with the 69th overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Level Draft. The native of Canada has experienced a stellar career at the WHL level, which has earned him an entry-level deal sooner than expected.
Ludvig started out as a rookie in the WHL for the Portland Winterhawks during the 2017-18 campaign. While suiting up in 51 games for the Winterhawks, Ludvig recorded a decent slash line of 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points. Furthermore, Ludvig also contributed 43 penalty minutes and a +11 rating on defense.
The 2018-19 season was certainly a step in the right direction for the ascending, two-way defenseman. While participating in 58 games as a sophomore, Ludvig would record an adequate line of 5 goals and 13 assists for 18 total points. Moreover, Ludvig recorded a whopping 77 penalty minutes as well as a sensational +38 rating on defense.
Essentially, Ludvig proved to NHL scouts that he was a solid defensive defenseman with the tools and potential to develop into a solid talent. With two years of experience at the WHL level, the Florida Panthers saw enough to draft Ludvig in the third round during the 2019 Draft.
Since being taken by the Cats, Ludvig has suddenly emerged into a top defensive prospect in the Panthers’ minor league system, quite frankly. The extremely young, yet raw Ludvig experienced a historic 2019-20 season with the Winterhawks, receiving the title as the team’s captain prior to the start of the season.
While participating in 60 games for Portland, Ludvig registered a phenomenal tally of 17 goals as well as 45 assists for 62 total points. Even while producing over a point per game, Ludvig would impress on the defensive side of the ice, recording 57 penalty minutes and a superb +46 rating.
Ludvig had truly developed into a tremendous leader, a premier two-way defenseman, and a proven top-two defenseman at the WHL level. With nothing left to prove and the WHL season being canceled, General Manager Dale Tallon decided to further the development of John Ludvig by signing him to an entry-level contract.
The teenage defenseman will almost certainly begin the 2020-21 pro-hockey campaign at the American Hockey League level in the Florida Panthers organization. Ludvig still requires more development and experience before arriving onto the scenes at the National Hockey League level.
Quite frankly, John Ludvig will likely spend the following two years developing in the AHL. While playing in the AHL, Ludvig will probably be paired in the top four alongside either newly signed Max Gildon or newly acquired Chase Priskie. By playing alongside another young defenseman with real promise and potential, Ludvig will be able to develop at the same rate, as well.
Ultimately, the signing of John Ludvig was certainly the correct move made by the Florida Panthers. The former third-rounder possesses plenty of upside and should continue to develop in the AHL before making a name for himself with the Florida Panthers at the NHL level in the foreseeable future.