The Florida Panthers have nabbed another European free agent, agreeing to terms with Calle Sjalin on a two-year entry-level contract. Sjalin was originally a draft pick of the New York Rangers but never signed a contract with them and became an unrestricted free agent last year. Per CapFriendly, Sjalin’s deal carries a cap hit of $855,000.
Panthers general manager Bill Zito released a statement on the deal:
Calle is a skilled defenseman who possesses a powerful shot and exceptional playmaking ability. He has developed into a top blueliner in the Swedish Hockey League and we are excited for him to continue to grow as an athlete in our system.
Zito is right, Sjalin did turn into a top defenseman in the SHL this season, racking up 22 points in 46 games for Leksands IF. That was a huge increase on his previous numbers and immediately put him back on NHL radars. With this new deal, he’ll join a Panthers organization that has shown a strong ability to put the finishing touches on a prospect and transition them into the NHL in recent years.
Whether he ever reaches that level still remains to be seen but the Panthers will happily add a lottery ticket like Sjalin to the organization for nothing more than an entry-level contract slot. Because he is still signed with his SHL club through 2022-23, he will have to be offered back to them should he fail to make the Panthers out of camp but given how well they have handled his development to this point, that wouldn’t really be a negative.