After struggling to make an impact at the NHL level for years, Josh Mahura seems to have found a home with the Florida Panthers. The team has rewarded his play with a one-year contract extension, locking him up for 2023-24. CapFriendly reports that the one-way deal is worth $925K. General manager Bill Zito released a short statement on the young defenseman:
Josh joined our club just prior the start of the season and we felt his positive impact on our defensive group immediately. He brings consistency and energy to our blueline.
A third-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2016, it looked like Mahura would quickly climb what was (at the time) a loaded depth chart. His post-draft junior seasons went extremely well, and he showed well in the AHL immediately. But then, it just never clicked for him at the NHL. He would see seasons of 17, 11, 13, and 38 games, failing to ever really establish himself as an everyday NHL defenseman.
But this year, after the Panthers claimed him at the start of the season, he has settled in as a third-pairing regular. He has suited up 54 times, nearly matching his total from years with Anaheim, and is averaging just over 14 minutes a night. He’s not asked to do much, but he’s done his job well enough to earn the trust of the organization and some financial security with this new deal.
That’s not to say his spot is safe for this year. The Panthers could use an upgrade on the back end, which would ultimately push Mahura either further down or off the lineup card completely. Next season though, there should be minutes to go around. Radko Gudas and Marc Staal are both scheduled for unrestricted free agency, leaving room for someone like Mahura to take another step forward. At worst, he’ll serve in the same role he is this year, providing value as a low-minute defenseman that can do a little bit of everything.