2012 NHL Free Agency opens with several moves by Florida Panthers; bolster defense, toughness

Compared to just a season ago, this year's free agent signing period began with far less flat-out drama but evolved into a nip-tuck-tweak affair as was widely expected. No trades were consummated by Florida within the first seven hours, meaning the theatrics of a prospective Roberto Luongo deal, to anywhere, will be found down the road.

Conference calls, a poll, and our recap after the jump...

The Panthers began the day - basically ushering in the first league-wide action - by announcing the re-signing of UFA goaltender Scott Clemmensen. Various reports over the past few weeks had the 34 year-old turning down an initial offer by the club but evidently the sides were able to bridge whatever gap may have existed. He's proven to be an above average backup netminder over the last three seasons of his previous contract; the new deal spans two years, and how his retention may affect the possible acquisition of Luongo (or Martin Brodeur, which I find wickedly difficult to believe will actually come to pass) is anyone's guess. As the situation currently stands, he remains behind Jose Theodore and a click above presumably AHL-bound Jacob Markstrom on the roster. (LBC's earlier story here)

Tallon, Inc.'s attention shifted to the blueline almost three hours later when the club signed (waaaay) former Panthers defenseman Filip Kuba to an over-35 two-year contract reportedly valued at $4M per season. It's a lot of coin considering his age, okay - it's an almost ridiculous amount of coin, but his experience aided Eric Karlsson's remarkable development with the Senators so a similar role with respect to Eric Gudbranson, Colby Robak, Alexander Petrovic, et al is likely the prevailing wisdom employed here. Doesn't hurt that he can still play at a top level, and 149 blocked shots over 73 games in 2011-12 would have paced Florida. So yeah...meet Jason Garrison's older, steadier (?) replacement. (LBC's earlier story here)

The Panthers closed out their Sunday afternoon activities - at least publicly - by filling a void in the "muscle" category - left when Matt Bradley was bought out & Krys Barch went UFA - with longtime Ducks enforcer/ambassador/all-around good-guy George Parros; Chris' earlier writeup on the deal can be found here. Videos abound with Parros goodness; a brief search will get you familiarized quickly if you weren't already, and perhaps the best endorsement of this signing comes directly from the fans of his now-former team. Courtesy of Anaheim Calling's Jen Neale comes an enthusiastic thumbs-up:

From a Ducks fan, you’re getting a fantastic person in George Parros. He’s served the Ducks well since 2006. We had to let him go because he wants a chance to play in every game, and with Bruce Boudreau now at the helm, that just wasn’t going to happen. You guys are really going to like him, just don’t expect him to be Gretzky. He will score a couple goals a season, but every shift is all out. At 6’6", seeing him hustle down the ice is like a freight train barreling towards you. Of course he’ll drop the gloves, too.

Of all the Ducks, George is by far the most fan-friendly. He was always at fan events and would stay until every fan was gone. He’s a huge fundraiser for charities. He’s smart and funny. I just can’t say enough great things about him.

Several smaller deals were completed through the day, focusing primarily on signings relevant to the AHL San Antonio Rampage, as F Greg Rallo (re-upped) and G Dov Grumet-Morris (a terrific addition to Florida's impressive stable of prospects, though both are 30) were inked to one-year, two-way contracts. As well, the Cats picked up minor league wing Jon Rheault, formerly of the Calgary Flames' system.

Among players lost on Sunday, F Mikael Samuelsson returned to the Red Wings on a two year/35+ deal ($3M per/cap hit), while Garrison found the situation he has long sought with Vancouver in a six-year, $27.6M deal courtesy of his hometown Canucks (in a funky way, aren't they all of our hometown team?).

It's a long summer, and while the Cats plugged a few proverbial holes there's no telling what is yet to come, especially on offense; though that's a problem which may well go a long way toward solving itself this week at Development Camp. Old business still remains on the table, as RFAs Dmitry Kulikov, Keaton Ellerby and Kris Versteeg await initial or counter offers.

Update: Conference Calls via the club...

Our mucho grande (?) Thanks to everyone who stopped by today's wildly successful Live Thread :)

Best move of the day?

Re-signing Clemmer34
Signing D Kuba32
Signing F Parros41