Busy day in Sunrise. The Florida Panthers have signed another one of their pending restricted free agents, inking Anthony Duclair to a three-year contract. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reports the deal will carry an average annual value of $3MM. The announcement included a statement from Panthers GM Bill Zito.
Anthony brought great speed and skill to our club this season. We look forward to seeing him continue to be a creative playmaker for us on the ice and a valuable member of our community. We are thrilled to have him as a part of the Panthers family for years to come.
Duclair, 25, has found a home in Florida, finally receiving some contract stability and financial security. The young forward had signed exclusively one-year contracts since his entry-level deal expired in 2017, and never made more than $1.7MM in a single season. Now, with a three-year, $9MM contract in hand, he can continue the strong offensive production he has shown the past few seasons. In 2020-21 for the Panthers, Duclair posted ten goals and 32 points, almost all of which came at even-strength. He had just two powerplay points the whole season, meaning there is potential for even more production if the Panthers ever decide to bump up his usage with the man advantage.
Even if that doesn’t come, the fact that Duclair has proven to be a valuable secondary scorer at 5v5 is an important asset for the Panthers moving forward. There is always a potential downside, and that is that Duclair’s role on the team did decrease significantly in the playoffs. He averaged just 12 minutes a night against the Tampa Bay lightning and registered zero points, something that would be unacceptable now that he’s carrying a $3MM cap hit.
Still, even though his career has been bumpy, betting on a player that has 72 points in his last 109 regular season games seems like a pretty safe gamble, especially given he’s still in his prime years. This move, like the one to sign Gustav Forsling earlier in the day, hints at the Panthers protection strategy for the upcoming expansion draft. Though there was some question to whether the team would leave Duclair exposed as an unsigned RFA, a new reasonably-priced deal should mean he is one of the forwards protected.