Panthers sign first-round pick Anton Lundell

After starring at the World Championship but coming up just short, Anton Lundell is ready to move to the next level. The Florida Panthers prospect agreed to terms on his three-year, entry-level contract, which will kick in for the 2021-22 season. Panthers GM Bill Zito released a statement on the impressive young forward:

“Anton is a cerebral, skilled and dynamic young player who continuously established himself in Finland’s top league and played a pivotal role on Finland’s national teams at all levels. Anton’s maturity, compete level and sound two-way ability are exciting qualities to add to our organization. We are thrilled to have signed Anton and look forward to his future with the Florida Panthers for years to come.”

Once considered a contender for the top few picks in the 2020 draft, Lundell eventually slipped to the Panthers at 12th overall after scouting concerns about his offensive ceiling. The 19-year-old forward put those concerns to bed after an outstanding season in Finland in which he recorded 16 goals and 25 points in 26 games, followed by a World Championship where he was one of the best forwards in the tournament. Lundell scored six goals and recorded 10 points in seven games for the silver medal-winning Finns.

A force at both ends of the rink, Lundell could quickly establish himself as a difference-maker behind top center Aleksander Barkov. As Scott Wheeler of The Athletic wrote in February:

He’s not going to be the kind of player who puts up 80-90 points in a season during his prime, but Lundell should comfortably fit into the 60-75 range (depending on linemates) while providing significant two-way value.

If that ends up being the case, the Panthers will have mined quite the player out of the middle of the first round and provided their already deep forward group with even more talent. Zito has his work cut out for him over the next few years as the entire Panthers team (save for Sergei Bobrovsky and Aaron Ekblad) will hit some form of free agency by 2023, but adding and developing options like Lundell should keep things rolling in the right direction. If he can provide value on his entry-level contract, it makes it even easier to re-sign players like newcomer Sam Bennett without running into cap trouble.

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