A day after signing center Vincent Trocheck to a six-year contract, the Panthers continued their busy offseason by locking in forward Reilly Smith with a five-year deal worth a reported $25 million.
Smith, 25, came to the Panthers in a trade with Boston last July and had a career-best 25 goals and added 25 assists as he has now hit the 20-goal mark in two of his past three seasons.
In the six playoff games against the Islanders, Smith led Florida with four goals and eight points.
“All our fans now know what a smart player he is,” said general manager Tom Rowe, who confirmed the Panthers are also close to signing center Derek MacKenzie to a two-year extension. “He’s a guy who goes a little under the radar, doesn’t get a ton of attention or headlines but shows up at the rink every day and practices and gives a consistent game day in and day out.”
Trocheck and Smith are the two latest young players whom the Panthers have signed to long-term deals, with Aaron Ekblad getting an eight-year contract extension Friday.
Florida previously signed Nick Bjugstad and Sasha Barkov to six-year contracts with Rowe saying talks are ongoing with Jonathan Huberdeau on a new deal.
“We’re talking,” Rowe said, “but there’s nothing eminent. He’s an important piece like the other guys.”
Although Trocheck’s contract kicks in this coming season, Smith, MacKenzie and Ekblad have one year remaining on their current deals, and their new contracts go into effect during the 2017-18 seasons. Huberdeau is also signed through this coming season.
“I’m really excited to get started,’’ Trocheck said Sunday. “The team has really shown us how much they want to win. I’m excited to go play and succeed.’’
As for future moves, Rowe said Florida was likely done shopping. The Panthers grabbed goalie James Reimer and forwards Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault on Friday before signing defenseman Jason Demers to a five-year deal Saturday.
“We met after the season and identified areas we needed to be better in,’’ Rowe said. “The real important piece was taking care of the core guys like Smith, Trocheck and, of course, Ekblad. We want them in the fold for a long time, at a price good for them and for us.’’