Less than 24 hours before the start of free agency, the Panthers announced Monday they had locked up Rostislav Olesz for six years, continuing their philosophy of signing their promising young talent to long term deals.
“It shows stability for our organization,” said GM Jacques Martin when addressing the media Monday afternoon. “I think, basically, it continues our philosophy, which we started last summer with our younger players. Getting them in the organization for the long term.”
The Panthers signed Stephen Weiss
, 25, and Nathan Horton, 23, to six-years deals last summer and Bryan Allen, 27, to a five year deal. On Monday, it was Olesz’s time, as the 22-year-old signed on after scoring a career-high 14 goals despite missing time with an injured wrist.
“It gives us three young forwards we’re happy with and with good potential,” Martin said. “I really believe it’s the key to building a successful franchise. I believe these young players will keep getting better. They’ll be higher expectations on them, but I believe they have the necessary skill set to be successful.”
Martin said he believes Olesz, barring injuries, will be a 20-to-25 goal scorer. Olesz, who Martin said he has been sought after by other teams, also gives the Panthers help on both the power play and penalty kill.
When quizzed by the media on whether the Panthers would be active come Tuesday’s free agency period, Martin was noncommittal.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “We evaluate what’s out there and, at the same time, look at our roster. I feel like we’ve got some great kids coming in. It depends on who’s available and the dollar figure. It’s hard to say at this point whether we’ll be active. There’s different ways to improve. We’re probably looking to move a defenseman down the road, so that could bring a forward back if we needed. As we’ve mentioned, with people like (Michael) Frolik and (Shawn) Matthias, they’ll probably be ready to play.”