2023 NHL Free Agency, Evan Rodrigues, Free Agents, News, Panthers Transactions

Florida Panthers Sign Evan Rodrigues to 4-Year Contract

Over the last couple of seasons, Evan Rodrigues has become a valuable depth piece to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche and at a cheap cost. After one season in Colorado on a one-year, $2 million contract in 2022-23, he is getting a pay raise and joining the Florida Panthers.

Rodrigues agreed to a four-year, $12 million contract that carries an average annual value of $3 million. After taking short deals the last couple of seasons, he finally got a deal with term and the 29-year-old is joining a team coming off an impressive run to the Stanley Cup Final last month.

Rodrigues Joining Fourth Team

After playing 192 games over a five-year span with the Buffalo Sabres, he was traded to the Penguins at the trade deadline in 2020 right before the coronavirus pandemic. In three seasons in Pittsburgh, he had 27 goals and 31 assists in 124 games. After playing in all 82 games in 2021-22, he left in free agency for Colorado.

Evan Rodrigues Colorado Avalanche
Evan Rodrigues with the Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In his one season with the Avalanche, he averaged 17:51 a night in the middle-six for coach Jared Bednar with 16 goals and 23 assists, with six goals and five assists coming on the power play. He played well in Colorado’s first-round postseason series against the Seattle Kraken with a goal and five points and averaging almost 20 minutes a night.

In his career, the former Boston University standout has 385 games played with 66 goals and 69 assists, and 20 power-play goals. An undrafted free agent signing by Buffalo, the 29-year-old was a college teammate with Jack Eichel.

Rodrigues Fit With the Panthers

Signing Rodrigues is a good depth move by Florida. The Toronto native can play both in the middle and on the wing and offers flexibility on the second power-play unit. Just who coach Paul Maurice will have ready for training camp remains to be seen. Matthew Tkachuk is one of multiple players that had surgery following the playoffs and it was for a fractured sternum, which puts the start of his 2023-24 season in doubt as he will more than likely still be recovering from the surgery.

Related: 2023 NHL Free Agency Tracker

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The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Rodrigues nearly matched his career-high in goals (19), assists (23), and points (43) that he set in 2021-22 with the Penguins. He used his one season in Colorado to increase his value in free agency and will make the move to the Panthers and offer the dimension they were looking for. He proved that when he’s playing around talented players, he can be successful and help a good team win, something he did in Pittsburgh and Colorado.

General manager (GM) Bill Zito had a busy opening weekend for free agency. On Day 1, he signed defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Dmitry Kulikov, and Mike Reilly to one-year contracts, while also adding forwards Niko Mikkola and Alex True. It’s clear that getting a taste of postseason success that started with their historic upset of the President Trophy-winning Boston Bruins has driven Zito to add depth pieces for the upcoming season in a loaded Eastern Conference.

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