Florida Panthers Sign John Ludvig

John Ludvig
EVERETT, WA - FEBRUARY 09: Portland Winterhawks defenseman John Ludvig (15) readies for the third period puck drop during a game between the Everett Silvertips and the Portland Winterhawks on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, WA. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Florida Panthers have signed defenceman John Ludvig to a three-year, entry-level contract. That deal will carry Ludvig through the 2022-23 season. Terms of the deal were announced late Monday morning.

Panthers Sign John Ludvig

Florida originally took Ludvig in the third-round of the 2019 Draft. The 19-year-old has been playing with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. This past season was Ludvig’s best with him posting 17 goals and 62 points in 60 games before North American hockey was suspended. His production increased each season from seven points in 2017-18 to his outstanding campaign this season.

Ludvig’s steady improvement puts him in a position to challenge for an NHL role in the next several seasons. He has good size at 6’1″, 198 pounds and combines his physical play with an improving shot. Ludvig seized control of his situation in Portland this year and demonstrated he can help anchor a power play. He wasn’t drafted with high expectations but he has some of the tools of a modern NHL defenceman. Ludvig’s skating ability and physical power give him an edge over smaller defenders he might find in the professional ranks. Florida can afford to promote Ludvig slowly but they like a lot of what he showed this season in a bigger role with Portland.

What to Expect from Ludvig

Ludvig likely will not make the NHL right away once hockey operations resume, however, he will look to improve and develop to make the big league eventually. The chaos caused by COVID-19 likely pushes development timelines back until things are normal again. Ludvig had a great 2019-20 but will need a little more seasoning before he jumps up to the highest level.

Florida has been aggressive signing several younger players. They signed prospects Max Gildon and Alec Rauhauser just last week to entry-level contracts. Teams are seeing prime opportunities to secure depth in a time of major uncertainty. That behaviour has extended to Ludvig’s deal. Florida does not need an extra defender right now but Ludvig could be a useful piece after he finishes his time in the WHL.

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