In the midst of the Cats’ annual Prospect Development Camp, news was made outside of the Florida Panthers IceDen as the big club announced the resigning of 22-year old Restricted Free Agent Erik Gudbranson. Coming off of a career year in terms of goals (three), points (nine), plus/minus (minus-seven) and PIMs (114), the burly right-shooting blueliner signed a two-year contract with the Sunrise-based squad, shoring up a patchy defensive corps that hopes to build off of a dismal 2013-2014 campaign.
As it stands, Gudbranson is one of two right-handed shots manning the blueline; assuming first-overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad joins the fold and steps into a prominent role during his rookie season, the Gudbranson signing balances a once lefty-heavy rearguard division at an equal three-shooters-a-piece. It isn’t like the physical Canadian hasn’t been around the block; at just 22 years of age, Gudbranson is a veteran of 169 NHL contests, and is set to progress in his development and possibly reach the ceiling his third-overall selection entails.
Furthermore, the signing allows General Manager Dale Tallon to focus on further improving the team; with several notable RFA’s awaiting a contract-namely Dmitry Kulikov, Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen-locking up our existing young talent for at least the near future ought to be a priority. Swirling around the rumor mill, Patrick Sharp‘s name has been linked to the Cats as a possible addition amidst the Chicago Blackhawks latest salary purge; could a possible reopening of the Chicago-Florida pipeline be in the wings?
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