After signing a handful of free agents at the beginning of the month, the Florida Panthers are now making in-house moves as they look to the future.
The Panthers and forward Eetu Luostarinen agreed to a three-year, $9 million contract extension Tuesday morning. The new contract will kick in during the 2024-25 season and pay him $3 million per year.
Luostarinen, 24, has been a key piece for the Panthers down the middle the last couple of seasons. He played in 78 games in 2021-22, but then set career highs last season in goals (17), assists (26) and points (43) while playing in all 82 regular-season games. Luostarinen was also second on the Panthers with a plus-19 rating.
He played in 16 games during the Stanley Cup playoffs, scoring the game-winner in Game 6 versus the Boston Bruins. However, he broke his tibia in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes and was unable to play in the Stanley Cup Final. Luostarinen was greatly missed during the Cup Final as one of the many Panthers who were injured.
Luostarinen was originally a second-round pick by the Hurricanes in 2017. He made his NHL debut in 2019-20, but was then traded to Florida in February 2020 as part of a four-player package that sent Vincent Trocheck to Carolina.
“Eetu is a dynamic two-way center whose speed and strength allow him to excel on any line,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said in a statement. “His consistency and dependability are a great asset to our forward group, and we are excited about what he can continue to bring to our lineup in the coming seasons.”
Luostarinen was slated to become a restricted free agent next summer, but will still be paid the $1.5 million he is owed this season. His average annual value on his new deal is the exact same as Evan Rodrigues, who was added from the Colorado Avalanche and is also signed through the 2026-27 season.