The Florida Panthers have signed another free agent that spent last season with the Winnipeg Jets organization, agreeing to terms with Julian Melchiori on a one-year two-way contract. Melchiori will join Manitoba Moose teammate Michael Hutchinson with the Panthers (or more likely the Springfield Thunderbirds) for the 2018-19 season. No financial details have been released.
Melchiori reached free agency through Group VI status this summer after failing to secure a full-time role in the NHL once again. Stuck behind a huge number of talented defenders in Winnipeg, the 26-year old played the entire season in the minor leagues where he recorded 14 points in 49 games. Once a third-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers and an up-and-coming defensive option, Melchiori has just 30 NHL games under his belt and hasn’t been able to consistently show his value as a reliable depth player with penalty killing abilities.
He’s headed from a stacked blue line in Winnipeg to one with a few more cracks in Florida, but there still isn’t a lot of room for Melchiori to wiggle his way into the NHL. The Panthers already have left-handed options like Ian McCoshen for their bottom pair and recently signed Bogdan Kiselevich out of the KHL. Instead, the Thunderbirds of the AHL will likely take Melchiori in and give him big minutes as a shutdown option in the minor leagues.