The Florida Panthers lost their first big name during the first day of free agency on Wednesday as star forward Claude Giroux signed a three-year, $19.5 million deal with the Ottawa Senators.
According to the Senators, the seven-time NHL All-Star will receive $7 million in each of the next two seasons and $5.5 million in 2024-25. The average annual value of his new deal is $6.5 million.
“We’re thrilled to add a player of Claude’s calibre to our lineup,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a statement. “He’s an elite offensive talent with exceptional face-off prowess and a player who maintains a strong work ethic. His leadership skills are arguably among his best assets. We’ve set out to bolster our roster this offseason and this addition is another important component in helping us achieve that. We’re very happy to welcome Claude and his family home to Ottawa.”
Florida made a bold move for Giroux, 34, at the trade deadline last season by acquiring him from the Philadelphia Flyers, where he had spent 14 seasons and was the longest-serving captain in team history (10 seasons). In exchange, Philadelphia received forward Owen Tippett, a conditional first-round draft pick in 2024 and a third-rounder in 2023 from the Panthers.
A solid contributor during his time with the Panthers, Giroux had three goals and 23 points in 18 regular-season games and helped the franchise to the Presidents’ Trophy for most points in the regular season.
Prior to his move to Florida, Giroux scored 20 or more goals nine times and finished second in the NHL in scoring during the 2017-18 season, finishing with 102 points. He is second on the Flyers’ all-time scoring list with 900 points (291 goals, 609 assists) while playing in 1,000 games for the franchise.
A native of northern Ontario, he played junior hockey in Gatineau, Quebec, close to Ottawa.
“I wouldn’t sign here if I didn’t think we had a chance to win the Cup,” Giroux told Canada’s TSN. “I’m not saying we’re going to win the Cup this year, but the plan is to build on it and have baby steps for that.”
Marchment to Stars
Another key contributor to this past season’s team, Mason Marchment, is also on the move. The 27-year-old forward will sign a four-year, $18 million deal with the Dallas Stars, according to multiple reports.
The Panthers acquired Marchment from the Toronto Maple Leafs in February of 2020 in exchange for forward Denis Malgin.
Marchment earns a significant pay raise from Dallas following his breakout season. In 54 games this past season he scored 18 goals and 47 points while playing a one-year, $800,000 deal with Florida.
He also scored a postseason goal.
Prior to his time with the Panthers Marchment was largely unproved, playing in just 37 games before last season.
Staal brothers come aboard
The Panthers added 35-year-old Marc Staal to a one-year, $750,000 contract on Wednesday, joining his older brother, Eric, who inked a tryout deal earlier. Eric Staal turns 38 in October. The brothers have played a combined 2,312 career NHL regular-season games.
Marc Staal played his first 13 seasons with the New York Rangers before logging the past two with the Detroit Red Wings. He is a two-time All-Star.
Eric Staal, who was not in the NHL last season, played the first 12 seasons of his career with the Carolina Panthers and is a six-time All-Star. He also has played with the Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Buffalo Sabres and Montreal Canadiens. He has never been teammates with his brother in the NHL.
The Panthers agreed to terms on a two-year contract with forward Nick Cousins.
“Nick is a reliable two-way player who will complement our forward group well,” said general manager Bill Zito. “We are excited to add his offensive versatility to our team.”
Cousins, 28, played in 68 games with the Predators in 2021-22, posting 22 points (9-13-22).
The 5-foot-11, 192-pounder has played in 444 career NHL games with Nashville (2020-21 to 2021-22), the Golden Knights (2019-20), the Canadiens (2019-20), the Coyotes (2017-18 to 2018-19) and Flyers (2014-15 to 2016-17), amassing 138 points (55-83-138). …
Florida also signed defenseman Nathan Staios to a three-year, entry-level deal.
After going undrafted in 2019, Staios had a strong showing in the 2021-22 OHL season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, leading all defenseman in the league with 66 points (15-51-66). He was named the CHL Defenseman of the Year and won the Max Kaminsky Trophy for being the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman. He was a key piece in helping Hamilton win the OHL championship.
Staios is the son of former NHL player, Steve Staios who played 16 seasons, making 1,001 appearances for the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Atlanta Thrashers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and New York Islanders. …
Florida and forward Colin White agreed to a one-year contract. White, 25, played in 24 games with the Senators in 2021-22, producing 10 points (3-7-10).
The 6-foot-1, 194-pounder has amassed 98 points (36-62-98) over 224 career NHL games all with Ottawa from 2016-17 to 2021-22. …
Defenseman Anthony Bitetto, 31, agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Panthers. The 6-foot-1, 222-pound Bitetto has appeared in 197 career NHL games with the Rangers (2020-21), Jets (2019-20), Wild (2018-19) and Predators (2014-15 to 2018-19), logging 31 points (3-28-31).
Brunette to Devils?
According to multiple reports, former Panthers interim head coach Andrew Brunette will join the New Jersey Devils’ staff.
Florida hired Paul Maurice to replace Brunette in June after he led the Panthers to a season where they had the best record in the NHL and rewrote the franchise’s record book.
Brunette took over early last season following the resignation of Joel Quenneville, and was a Coach of the Year finalist in his first head-coaching stint at the NHL level.