The Florida Panthers have snatched up another prospect, agreeing to terms with Jake Massie on a two-year entry-level contract. Massie’s exclusive draft rights were held by the Chicago Blackhawks until recently, as he informed the University of Vermont that he intended on turning pro in late May. College players who are four years removed from their draft year are able to become unrestricted free agents 30 days after leaving college regardless of whether they have completed their NCAA eligibility; Massie played one year in the USHL and three at Vermont after being selected in the sixth round of the 2015 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.
The 22-year old defenseman has never been known for his offensive upside, scoring just 23 points in his three-year college career. Instead, his most obvious attributes come in the defensive zone where he has been a polished talent for several years. It wasn’t clear if that would be enough to earn him an NHL contract, but the Panthers obviously feel as though they can squeeze at least some value out of him.
For the Panthers, plays like this are easy to make. The team currently sits at only 35 contracts out of their allotted 50, meaning there is still quite a bit of work to do to fill out the organizational depth chart. Massie will be just the 11th defenseman under contract, a group that needs to fill out the blue line at both the NHL and AHL level. He’ll likely start in the minor leagues, where he can show that his defensive prowess can be a positive at the professional level.