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Leafs re-sign Richard Panik to one year contract

Former Lightning prospect re-signs one year deal with the Maple Leafs.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Former Lightning prospect and RFA Richard Panik re-signed on a one year deal with the Maple Leafs today. The deal, worth $975,000, reflects the improvement in his play as a bottom-six winger for Toronto during the 2014-2015 season. Often playing on Nazem Kadri's wing, Panik scored 11 goals and 6 assists for the Leafs, improving over his record of 3 goals in limited games with the Lightning in 2013-2014.

Panik's exploits with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch are well-documented. As a member of the Crunch's Top Gun line, Panik played with C Tyler Johnson and W Ondrej Palat to lead the team to a Calder Cup win. Panik's inability to remain in the Lightning's lineup at the start of 2014 was not a result of lack of skill -- but more a result of the Lightning's depth in forwards. Brett Connolly rose to take his place on Palat and Johnson's line out of training camp, sending Panik through wavers, and ultimately to Toronto.

Panik played a Lightning-style "fancy" game that was underutilized by former Leafs coach Peter Horachek. Critiquing Panik's game, Horachek said:

"He gets himself in trouble sometimes because he tries things that are fancy, through the legs," Horachek said. "And he puts himself in a position, or the team, where the puck is going the other way. We are harping a lot about managing the puck and making good decisions with the puck. I think he has a future in this game if he can just get the management of the puck part (down). It's not just one (time). It's a hundred times and I say it to him every time."

Jon Cooper, on the other hand, has said that despite some growing pains, Panik "can be the best player on the ice," and that he "can really impact a game. he's going to be a real good player in this league."