Young Florida Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has finally been signed to a deal that should work out swimmingly for both parties, a two year contract...or essentially a 1.5 year contract given the NHL's shortened season. The 22 year old RFA has long been touted as being a skilled offensive defenseman, scoring 4 goals and racking up 24 assists through 58 games last season, and 70 points through 198 career games since being drafted 14th overall in 2009. Kulikov seemed to be breaking out before a mid season injury slowed him down. Despite some growing pains last year, there was no doubting Kulikov's value whether as a Panther for long term, or in a trade had a deal not been formed.
A two year deal fits perfectly for the Panthers' future. Though Kulikov has great potential, it would have been painful to award him a lengthy and expensive contract based on a 28 point season. Not signing a long term contract doesn't strike me as a lack of faith in Kulikov, but a conservative approach to benefit both parties. After a long summer of question marks regarding how much Kulikov would want and recent developments with his KHL club, be thankful the whole ordeal didn't take an extreme route. A two year deal seems very fair, and comes at a perfect time with the Panthers gearing up for their home opener on Saturday.