Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers sign two of the nation’s top college defensemen to entry-level deals

The ongoing COVID-19 stoppage hasn’t stopped NHL teams from making acquisitions this month and the Florida Panthers made a pair Wednesday.

A day after the 2020 NHL Entry Draft was postponed, the Panthers signed two amateur defensemen to bolster Florida’s organizational depth. The Panthers signed Max Gildon, 20, to a three-year, entry-level deal and inked a one-year, two-way contract with Alec Rauhauser, 25.

Gildon is particularly interesting as a prospect. The junior led the New Hampshire Wildcats in scoring this season with 29 points. Florida originally drafted Gildon in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

“Max is a dynamic and exciting young defenseman, who possesses size and skill and plays the game with an edge,” general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement. “Since beginning his collegiate career, he has been a key player for the University of New Hampshire and has been a leader for his team. We are thrilled for Max to take the next step in his development with the Panthers.”

Gildon was a third-team all-Hockey East selection after scoring seven goals and handing out 22 assists. Gildon finished third among Hockey East defensemen in scoring.

Rauhauser was also one of the top scoring defensemen in the country this season, leading the Bowling Green Falcons with 35 points. He was the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons and a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey. Rauhauser went undrafted out of high school.

“Over four seasons at Bowling Green, Alec has proven himself to be among the best at his position at the collegiate level,” Tallon said. “He is a skilled two-way defenseman who is a leader both on and off the ice. We are excited to have him join the Panthers organization.”

The NHL remains on hiatus because of the coronavirus outbreak and hasn’t played since postponing the season indefinitely March 12.

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