Panthers pounce and extend key contracts, plus other key free-agent moves

The Panthers locked up both Reilly Smith, 25, and Vincent Trocheck, 22, in longterm deals. Icon Sportswire

While hockey fans spent the holiday weekend grilling and celebrating, NHL general managers were still working on their respective offseason blueprints and constructing rosters.

After big-name free agents like Loui Eriksson (Vancouver Canucks), Milan Lucic (Edmonton Oilers), Kyle Okposo (Buffalo Sabres), Andrew Ladd (New York Islanders), David Backes (Boston Bruins) and Frans Nielsen (Detroit Red Wings) all signed on July 1, other unrestricted and restricted free agents agreed to their own deals the last couple of days.

So before you head outside to clean up the backyard after the weekend's festivities, grab a coffee and take a gander at what occurred while you weren't paying attention to hockey.

Florida's keys: young forwards

Florida Panthers GM Tom Rowe has been extremely busy the last few days.

He signed Reilly Smith, 25, to a five-year contract extension worth $25 million. The forward proved he could take his game to the next level last season and finished with 25 goals and 25 assists in 82 games. He also wore the "A" for the Panthers toward the end of the season.

"Reilly was a key player for our team last season," Rowe said. "He is a valuable contributor to our offense and special teams, and is an important part of our talented group of forwards."

Vincent Trocheck is one of those important forwards, so the Panthers inked him to a six-year deal worth $28.5 million. The 22-year-old forward registered 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points in 76 games last season.

"Vincent played an important role in our success last season and will be a prominent part of the Panthers for years to come," Rowe said. "He is another piece of our talented young core of players."

Rowe also signed UFA defenseman Jason Demers, 28, to a five-year deal worth $22.5 million.

"We are excited to sign Jason and we are thrilled he chose Florida," Rowe said. "He will play an integral role on our blue line and will help our transition game and special teams. This is another important signing for us this offseason."

Jets gain the inside Laine

It didn't take long for the Winnipeg Jets to sign their recent first-round pick (No. 2 overall), Patrick Laine, to a three-year, entry-level deal worth $10.725 million. The 18-year-old forward is expected to make an immediate impact for the Jets in 2016-17. The Jets also signed goaltender Jamie Phillips to a two-year, entry-level deal worth $1.35 million.

Veteran moves

Veteran defenseman Roman Polak, 30, signed a one-year deal worth $2.25 million with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Forward P.A. Parenteau, 33, signed a one-year deal worth $1.25 million with the Islanders. Forward Shane Prince, 23, agreed to a two-year contract extension worth $1.7 million with the Islanders. He had six goals and 11 assists for 17 points in 42 games during his rookie season with the Islanders and the Ottawa Senators. New York acquired Prince at the trade deadline last season, and he added three goals and one assist in 11 Stanley Cup playoff games for the Islanders.

Still on the market

Players who are eligible can file for arbitration on Tuesday. Meanwhile, some valuable free agents remain on the open market, including forwards Kris Versteeg, Matt Cullen, Brandon Pirri and Shane Doan, along with defensemen Dennis Seidenberg, Matt Carle and Dan Boyle.

So, now that the holiday is over, the rest of the week should become a bit busier around the league before GMs retreat to their cottages and golf clubs.