The Panthers announced this week that Connor Brickley, Sam Brittain, and Greg McKegg each re-signed with the team as qualifying offers were tendered to three other restricted free-agents: Vincent Trocheck, Logan Shaw, and Jonathan Racine.
Connor Brickley signed a 1-year, 2-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level after having an up and down season, both literally and figuratively. The 24-year old restricted free-agent spent time at the beginning of the season with the Panthers after a solid showing at training camp and the team’s rookie tournament in September, but he was sent back to the AHL not long after scoring his first NHL goal on October 13th against the Carolina Hurricanes.
He returned to the Panthers on November 27th for his second stint of the season which lasted just over a month, but his physical play was noticeably toned down and he seemed like a different player compared to his first stint. He suffered from some injuries after being sent back to the AHL for the second time but had a strong finish to the season with the Portland Pirates scoring 4 goals and recording 18 points in the final 21 games. He’ll certainly be competing for a roster spot again this season, but with the Panthers looking to add several bottom-6 pieces to their line-up during the off-season, he’ll need to impress management to make it.
Sam Brittain will also return to the Panthers’ organization on a 1-year, 2-way deal worth $750,000 at the NHL level. The 24-year old goaltender spent the entire 2015-16 season with the Portland Pirates of the AHL where he served as the backup for starter Mike McKenna. He didn’t have a bad season by any means as he recorded a goals-against average of 2.79 and a save percentage of .906, but he was inconsistent at times throughout the year.
Being that he was a starter at the University of Denver for most of his college career, he could be adjusting to playing less frequently as a backup and that’s definitely something that could be affecting his performance over the course of the season. His best start of the season came when he made 45 saves on 46 shots in an overtime win against the Providence Bruins in January. Barring an impressive training camp, Brittain will be in the AHL for the foreseeable future and likely as the backup considering Mike McKenna will be with the team for one more season.
Greg McKegg was the final RFA to agree to terms with the Panthers, at least for now anyway. Although he wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer, the Panthers still retained his rights until July 1st so they were able to make a deal with him if they wanted. McKegg’s contract is also a 1-year, 2-way deal which will earn him $700,000 at the NHL level, although considering the prospects that will likely be playing for the Panthers’ AHL squad in Springfield next season. He had a solid showing as a depth center down the stretch for the Panthers, but it’s expected he’ll slot in as a bottom-6 forward for the Thunderbirds during the upcoming season.
Vincent Trocheck, Logan Shaw, and Jonathan Racine were also tendered qualifying offers by the Panthers, but so far, none of them have been signed to new contracts. It’s expected that all 3 will get done before the off-season comes to an end, and we could see Trocheck’s deal – which is likely to be of the long-term variety – drag out a bit a la Jonathan Huberdeau. The Panthers did not tender qualifying offers to Quinton Howden or John McFarland, however they can still sign one or both to a contract if they wish.
The Panthers also announced that they’ve hired Roberto Luongo’s younger brother, Leo, as the goaltending coach for the Springfield Thunderbirds. Luongo served as the goaltending coach for HC Lugano of National League A in Switzerland for the past 3 years as well as for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL from 2007 until 2013.