The Florida Panthers are getting their restricted free agent business done today, as after avoiding arbitration with MacKenzie Weegar the team has agreed to terms with Ian McCoshen. McCoshen will sign a one-year, two-way contract for 2019-20, though the exact financials have not been released yet.
McCoshen, 23, still hasn’t had quite the impact at the NHL level that the Panthers were hoping for when they made him the 31st overall pick in 2013. After three years at Boston College the 6’3″ defenseman was expected to take a very short amount of time in the minor leagues before being ready to step into an NHL role, but that hasn’t worked out quite as planned. Now three seasons into his pro career, McCoshen has only suited up 60 times with the Panthers and is by no means guaranteed a role at that level in 2019-20.
Never a huge offensive threat, McCoshen was instead heralded for his tight gaps on defense and ability to engage physically when necessary. In extremely limited ice time, he has just seven points in those 60 games and has posted very poor possession statistics. In order to receive any more opportunity this season he will have to battle against players like Weegar and Josh Brown in training camp and show there is another level to his performance.
Still, it’s not time yet to give up on the young defenseman nor is it time to pencil him into the Springfield Thunderbirds roster to start the year. No longer waiver-exempt, the team might have to keep him in the NHL for a while as another team could easily find him attractive enough to put in a claim if he were to be exposed at the end of training camp. While the Panthers are now looking to compete and will be trying to trim the fat from their roster, a rebuilding club could certainly give McCoshen a chance as a bottom-pairing option to see what he can develop into. With just nine forwards signed to one-way contracts, the Panthers will have some flexibility at the start of the year if they want to keep all eight defensemen on the roster.