Panthers retain rights to group of restricted free agents

The Florida Panthers announced they intend to use a significant portion of their available salary-cap space on long-term contracts with three defensemen and two forwards.

Although he's only 22, Erik Gudbranson is someone the Florida Panthers consider to be a future captain.

Marc DesRosiers / USA TODAY Sports

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers have retained the rights of their restricted free agents, general manager Dale Tallon said Monday.

The group includes defensemen Erik Gudbranson, Dylan Olsen, Dmitry Kulikov and forwards Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Pirri.

Florida's ownership remains committed to spending up to the salary cap, and a significant chunk of the available space will be used to retain its restricted players with multiple-year deals.

"There have been a couple calls, but nothing major has developed yet," Tallon said. "We've retained their rights by qualifying them. And we'll just take our time. There's no urgency really."

Tallon said he believes next year's salary cap will be "closer to $70 (million)."

In April, Tallon estimated having $30 million to work with this offseason based on the NHL's current $64.3 million cap.

He revised his offseason estimate Monday, figuring $18 million would be available to spend on unrestricted free agents. That leaves Florida with approximately $17.7 million to re-sign its restricted free agents based on the new cap estimate.

"Looking at our guys that we're going to re-sign, it's probably going to be about $18 (million)," Tallon said, referring to his free agent budget. "The good news is, it is a lot more than we've spent in the past."

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