After Helping Build Up Panthers, Erik Gudbranson Sad to Go

Erik Gudbranson was a leader for the young Florida Panthers team last season. It was a year where the team showed major progress toward becoming a Stanley Cup champion, setting franchise records in wins (47) and points (103).

And that’s why Gudbranson was sad to learn of the offseason trade that will have him playing for the Vancouver Canucks next season.

“There’s a buzz around hockey here now and I’d like to think that, as part of the Panthers the past few years, we created it,” Gudbranson told George Richards of the Miami Herald. “It’s sort of sad to leave, but hopefully this thing continues to grow and hockey becomes the prominent sport down here.”

The third overall selection in the 2010 draft has only ever worn a Panthers sweater in the NHL, so moving to a new team will be a new experience. But moving to a hockey-crazed market should feel somewhat familiar to the Ottawa-native who played junior hockey for the Kingston Frontenacs.

“I was surprised about the trade, but Vancouver is a huge hockey market and I’m excited to be going there,” he said. “It was a shock to be traded, I didn’t see it coming. But it’s a business. I’ll keep going.”

Gudbranson has one year remaining on his contract, which will pay him $3.5 million. When the deal expires he will be a restricted free agent.