BY GEORGE RICHARDS
The Panthers have locked up one of their top defensemen, announcing Wednesday morning that the team and Bryan Allen have agreed to a five-year contract.
Allen, acquired last June as part of the Roberto Luongo trade with Vancouver, had a very solid season in 2006-07. Allen, who played in all 82 games, tied a career high in points (25) and had a career high 21 assists.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed; Allen made $1.55 million last season. Had he not resigned, Allen would have been a restricted free agent on July 1, and could have become an unrestricted free agent after next season.
Panthers general manager Jacques Martin and Allen were not available for comment Wednesday morning, but the Panthers said both would address the media later in the day.
“Bryan proved to be one of our top four defensemen last year and he will continue to play a vital role in our team’s future success,” Martin said in a statement. “He is a very talented and physical player with a tremendous work ethic, who is an asset to our organization both on and off the ice. With the signing of Allen, we now have assembled a core nucleus of defensemen for next season that includes Jay Bouwmeester, Ruslan Salei and Mike Van Ryn.’’