The Panthers announced this afternoon that they’ve signed Swedish defenseman Linus Hultström to a 2-year, entry-level contract. The 23-year old became a free-agent after his season ended in the SHL, allowing him to sign wherever he wanted.
As we discussed in an article in March when rumors of him signing with the Panthers began, Hultström is a smooth-skating, cerebral, two-way defenseman with above-average offensive abilities. His strengths on the offensive side of the puck include his shot (point shot, one-timer, wrist shot) and his puck-handling abilities especially in traffic.
A source close to the SHL – which is the league Hultström played in – told us that he’s “the Erik Karlsson of the SHL,” and that it’s likely he could step in as a really good bottom-4 defenseman in the NHL right now. The 5’11”, 180-pound defenseman just finished up his fourth season in the SHL where he tallied 12 goals and 19 assists in 52 games making him the highest scoring defenseman.
According to CapFriendly, Hultström will earn $792,500 in both 2016 and 2017, and since he’s coming from the larger European ice surface, it’s likely that he’ll begin next season in the AHL in order to become acclimated with the North American style of play. Overall, this is a low-risk, high-reward signing that could be very good for the Panthers if Hultström is able to carry over what made him successful in the SHL.