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Panthers prospect Erik Gudbranson to sign entry-level deal, get chance to stay in NHL

Oct 2, 2010, 11:00 PM EDT

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GYI0061888122-gudbranson-joelauerbach-getty.jpgFlorida Panthers 2010 first round pick Erik Gudbranson is getting his wish. At the very least, he’s getting his chance to prove to the Panthers that he can stick in the NHL. The Florida Sun Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov gives us the scoop on the news that Gudbranson will sign an entry level contract with the team and get his shot to show the Panthers that the future is now for him.

…Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon confirmed before Saturday night’s final preseason game against the Lightning that he will present a contract offer to the 18-year-old defenseman’s agent Monday morning.

“I’m not even thinking about juniors right now,” Gudbranson said Friday.”I’m playing for the Florida Panthers. I’m not thinking about what could happen or should happen.

“Basically, what they want me to do is to come to play hockey.”

Well yes, they want you to come play hockey and play it better than some of the guys the Panthers initially had slated to start the season on the blue line. For Gudbranson, he’ll get a nine-game window to show Tallon and coach Pete DeBoer that he’s worthy of staying around in the NHL or else the team can send him back to junior hockey.

The Panthers have given Gudbranson a long look during training camp playing him in all of the team’s preseason games. While the Panthers are in the process of building a bigger, better team, they’re also a group that could benefit by having all their young guys learning together at the NHL level and winning games. For Gudbranson, his preseason has been regular season-like all along and he gets nine more games to prove that he belongs with the big boys. For an 18 year-old kid that might be asking a lot, but at the NHL Draft in Los Angeles, many experts felt that he was the defenseman most ready to make it to the NHL right away. It’ll be fun to see if he can make it through his audition and stay in the NHL.

(Photo: Joel Auerbach – Getty Images)

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