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Florida Panthers

Florida Signs Keith Ballard to a 6-Year Extension

On Frozen Pond writes that Florida has extended the contract of newly acquired defenseman Keith Ballard. The deal may be worth upwards of $4 million per season.

The Panthers just called to tell me that defenseman Keith Ballard has signed a six-year contract extension. Ballard, the key part of the Olli Jokinen deal, was set to become a restricted free agent after the coming season.

“Keith is only 25 years old,” GM Jacques Martin said. “It really solidifies our defense. We’re adding an individual long-term who has good skating ability, skates hard and was a Hobie Baker runner-up. We really believe that he helps our defense. .-.-. We wanted to get him under contract.”

Ballard will make $2.5 million this coming season. The six-year deal — likely worth more than $4 million per — would kick in after this season meaning he’s signed through the (grasp this) 2014-15 season.

This is a good deal for the Panthers. It solidifies the key piece in the Jokinen trade and provides some stability on the blueline should JBo decide to leave the team after this season.