The Florida Panthers are set to add a menacing presence to their blue line. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that defenseman Radko Gudas will sign with the club on a three-year deal at a $2.5MM AAV. The Panthers have also signed forward Carter Verhaeghe to a two-year deal with a $1MM AAV, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
Gudas, 30, may not be a minute-munching top-four defenseman, but uses his limited ice time better than most. Gudas has never averaged 20+ minutes per game in a season in his eight-year NHL career, but that hasn’t stopped him from establishing himself as a major physical threat and top defensive specialist. Through stops with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Washington, Gudas has always logged major hit totals, has contributed a fair amount of offense, and has been an asset on the penalty kill. His penalty troubles have also improved in recent years, making his physicality and man-down ability even more valuable. Getting a reliable defensive presence for nearly $1MM less than his previous AAV is a great value buy for a Florida. A team that needed more depth and aggression on the blue line has now added Gudas and Markus Nutivaara in the past 24 hours.
Verhaeghe, 25, was not extended a qualifying offer by the defending champion Lightning and became a surprise addition to the UFA market. However, he has already found a new home and one that is not too far away. Florida adds a player who recorded nine goals and 13 points in 52 games in his rookie season, despite playing a limited fourth line role. If Verhaeghe, who amassed impressive offensive totals in the AHL, is able to play a complete season and can win a more substantial role, he should easily record 20-30 points on a measly $1MM salary.