On one short afternoon on July 1 the Florida Panthers totally revamped their defense through the NHL free-agent market. Some notable new faces are Filip Kuba and George Parros. The two new defenders will also be joined next year by Tyson Strachan from the San Antonio Rampage.
This guy is the NHL's perennial tough guy. He only scored four points in the 2011-12 season but he managed to rack up 85 penalty minutes in 55 games played. Parros doesn't have the big slap shot from the point but he'll help the Cats on the penalty kill and he will serve as an intimidating bodyguard for the Panthers' young prospect Jonathan Huberdeau if the team decides to bring him up to the show next season.
The prodigal son returns in the form of Filip Kuba who was originally drafted by the Panthers in the 8th round back in 1995. He is another solid veteran that the Cats will be able to count on next season. Kuba is 35 years old but despite his age he can still skate with the best of them. In the 2011-12 season he put up 32 points in 73 games played. Kuba could easily make the first line alongside Brian Campbell next year if Jason Garrison doesn't return.
Strachan isn't a free-agent pick up but he will definitely be with the team next year. He played last season in the American Hockey League with the San Antonio Rampage and was awarded a one-way contract by the Panthers last year, which means the team must bring him up to the NHL next season. Last year Strachan bounced back and fourth between the Panthers and the Rampage. His NHL numbers weren't overly impressive but he's got a great shot from the back end and the Cats will be able to use him as a power play specialist.
The looming question about the Cats' defense remains to be Jason Garrison. As of July 1 Garrison is still not resigned and is testing the waters of the free-agent market. The recent signings by the Panthers may be an indicator that Garrison will go elsewhere. If that's the case his scoring prowess would certainly be missed but the Cats look like they're stocking up on veteran talent to weather the storm.
Colby Robak and Alex Petrovic are two defensemen from the Rampage that could very well make a few guest appearances next season with the Panthers if one of the veterans goes down with an injury. From top to bottom the organization's defense looks good. There's a nice crop of young players and a core of veterans there to teach them how to play the game at the next level.
More from this contributor:
All free-agent and contract information form NHL.com
Kristian Eberwein is a freelance journalist from Orlando, Florida. He was an English major at the University of Central Florida and has been a part of the Florida hockey community for the past twenty years. Follow him on Twitter @KrisEberwein
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Filip Kuba
- George Parros
- San Antonio Rampage