The Florida Panthers have retained some defensive depth for the future. Gustav Forsling has signed a contract extension for three years at $2.66M a year. It comes on the heels of Keith Yandle’s buyout, so the Panthers are starting to get busy right before expansion takes place. Pierre LeBrun announced the details of the deal on Thursday morning.
Forsling extension: three years x $2.66 M AAV https://t.co/ZkSR46KE6L
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 15, 2021
Forsling was a solid depth piece for Florida in 2020-21. The 24-year-old Swede played in 43 games with five goals and 17 points. He also received credit for 30 hits and 42 blocks while averaging 19:57 per game. Forsling was not particularly good at driving offence with a 548.2 percent Corsi For and -9.1 relative Corsi, but he also started in the defensive zone the vast majority of when he was on the ice. He is a perfectly fine second or third-pairing defender that can chip in offence while checking the opposition.
The Chicago Blackhawks originally drafted Forsling in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft. He played for the Windy City franchise for three seasons before heading to the Carolina Hurricanes in a deal that included Calvin de Haan. Florida then selected him off waivers at the beginning of 2021. Overall, Forsling has 13 goals and 44 points in 165 games.
What This Means
Forsling now has a prime opportunity to seize more of a role for himself in 2021-22. Yandle’s decline and exit from the franchise opens up a spot on the team’s blueline that could result in more total ice time for the young Swede. He might have to battle the likes of Kevin Connauton or Matt Kiersted, but Forsling definitely has the inside track for a top-four slot in the coming season.
The Panthers can now turn their attentions to a handful of other key depth players. They still need to extend goaltender Chris Driedger. Sam Bennett, Anthony Duclair, and Alexander Wennberg are also important contributors that need deals. Florida had only $10.46 million before the Yandle and Forsling moves. It will be interesting to see how they juggle things from this point forward.
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