The Florida Panthers have announced a new two-year contract for Eetu Luostarinen, avoiding restricted free agency with the young forward. Puck Pedia reports the deal carries a $1.5MM cap hit, paid in full base salary each season. The team also inked defenseman Lucas Carlsson to a one-year, two-way contract to avoid restricted free agency, which CapFriendlyNo contract details were included. has an $800,000 cap hit and $300,000 minor salary with $400,000 guaranteed.
General manager Bill Zito did release a statement on the two players:
Eetu is a selfless, dependable and cerebral player who plays with consistency each and every night. We are excited to have him back in our lineup for the upcoming campaign.
Lucas is an effective two-way defenseman who possesses a high compete level. We are pleased that he will remain a part of our organization as we head into next season.
Luostarinen may not be a household name yet but he was an important piece for the Panthers this season, offering versatility and size to the bottom six. The 23-year-old center scored nine goals and 26 points in 78 games, averaging just over 13 minutes a night while racking up more than 100 hits. Averaging more short-handed ice time than any forward not named Aleksander Barkov or Anton Lundell, his role is integral to the machine that Zito and the Panthers have built, even if it’s hard to see much more offensive production coming in the future.
Selected 42nd overall by the Carolina Hurricanes, Luostarinen was part of the Vincent Trocheck trade in 2020 and quickly showed that he could handle himself at the NHL level. It’s not to say more offense is impossible from the 6’3″ forward, just that his role in Florida is likely to stay limited to defensive minutes for the time being. The team has so many established offensive players ahead of him that his deployment will likely stay heavily skewed to his own end of the rink, tasked with protecting the lead and taking some of the defensive burdens off of Barkov.
A two-year deal will leave Luostarinen as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2024, though by then he will be eligible for arbitration.
Carlsson worked his way into 40 NHL games this season and is Florida’s likely go-to man for their seventh defenseman spot. In his first “full” NHL campaign, Carlsson averaged just 12:43 per game but managed three goals and six points.