Without even suiting up in the preseason, newly acquired defenseman, Keith Ballard, has signed a 6-year contract extension with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Ballard, acquired in a draft day deal with Phoenix, had only one year remaining on the two-year deal he signed last summer with the Coyotes, which will be worth $2.275 against the cap this season. This deal is reportedly worth around $4 million per season, which would be the Panthers' cap hit as well.
Ballard, 25, played in all 82 games for Phoenix last season, scoring 6 goals and adding 15 assists. He'll bring a decent offensive game to Florida, who has been rumoured to be in the midst of a defenseman shuffle for the long haul, not to mention bringing an all-around good defensive game as well.
At 21 points last season, Ballard does make a good case to being a good pick-up for your hockey pool draft team this season. He may be a later pick, but if the Panthers can get their young forwards to do the same thing as what happened in Phoenix last season, you could make a good case for Ballard.
The additions of Ballard, Bryan McCabe and Nick Boynton add some definite credibility to the Panthers' blueline, which has been lacking severely over the last few years of that. Throw Jay Bouwmeester (for how long?) and Cory Murphy to the mix and the team has a solid five to start building out from. All of this makes Tomas Vokoun's stock rise a little more, since he'll have some help immediately in front of him.