Apr 12, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Corey Tropp (26) hits the ice after a check by Florida Panthers defenseman Ed Jovanovski (55) as defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) looks on in the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Panthers sign D Erik Gudbranson

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The Florida Panthers have re-signed defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a two-year deal, per the team’s website. Gudbranson was the third overall pick in the 2010 draft and while he’s been to slow to develop at the same rate of those drafted just ahead of him (Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin respectively) GM Dale Tallon is confident that Gudbranson is a key to the team’s future and well worth another contract.

“He is a big, strong and physical defenseman who is one of the building blocks for our team,” Tallon said in the team’s press conference. Gudbranson has tallied 21 points in 169 games played with the Panthers since 2011. His bruising, physical style is at the center of his game.

Gudbranson had struggled this past season, but at 22 it’s hard to call a young defenseman a finished product. He received a strong vote of confidence from Dale Tallon earlier in the season when Tallon said that Erik Gudbranson could “be the captain our team some day“.

The deal is worth a total of $5 million per Cap Geek. Gudbranson is slated to make $2.25 next season and $2.75 in the season after that.

The Panthers hope that in Gudbranson and the team’s newest addition, Aaron Ekblad, they will have a formidable blue line built on strength and size, much like one on which the Boston Bruins have relied for the last four or five years. If the Panthers can replicate that kind of success, they’ll be happy they remained patient with their third overall pick and held strong for the future.

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