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Montour embracing Cup run as free agency looms: 'Things are going to change'

Rich Gagnon / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Brandon Montour isn't letting upcoming contract negotiations spoil his chase for the Stanley Cup in what could be his final days with the Florida Panthers.

"Things are going to change quick here (in) two-and-a-half weeks, three weeks," Montour told The Athletic's Michael Russo and Shayna Goldman. "I've played this out all year. Two to three weeks isn't going to hurt anything. My whole goal right now is to play the best I can for this team, and the rest will take care of itself afterward."

Montour is eligible to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and could be the odd man out as 57-goal-scorer Sam Reinhart is also up for a new deal. The Panthers only have 14 players signed for next season and have approximately $20 million to work with this offseason, per CapFriendly.

Evolving-Hockey's contract projection tool suggests Montour is likely to earn around $6.43 million annually on his next deal, which would slot him between Aaron Ekblad ($7.5 million) and Gustav Forsling ($5.75 million) on the Panthers' defensive hierarchy.

Florida acquired Montour from the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in 2021. He registered a career-high 16 goals and 73 points in 2022-23 before playing an integral role in the Panthers' improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final, but recovery from a shoulder injury limited his availability and production this season.

As a 30-year-old right-shot blue-liner, Montour is likely to generate interest from several teams if he doesn't re-up with the Panthers. However, he said he's solely focused on ending this season on a high note.

"You work so hard and you dream about this since you were 3 years old," he said. "It's something that's tough. Last year was not something that I wanted to experience. So, luckily enough, we have this opportunity again to turn the story and change that."

The Panthers own a 2-0 series lead over the Edmonton Oilers with Game 3 set for Thursday night.

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