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Ballard Locked In Until 2015 (Yep, 2015)

Ballard Big news for the Panthers as 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.

Ballard came to the Panthers along with Nick Boynton on draft day and is seen as a big part of Florida's defensive future. 

"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 Hobey 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.

For those who were wondering, Martin says that this signing has nothing to do with the future of one Jay Bouwmeester.

"I don't think it has anything to do with Jay,'' Martin said. "Our philosophy is to improve our hockey team. We have people we like and people we want to build around. It's an indication to our fans that we're improving and want to put a better team on the ice.''

-- Here's the long-term breakdown of Panther players and seasons they are signed through:

2014-15: Keith Ballard; 2013-14: Rostislav Olesz; 2012-13: Nathan Horton, Stephen Weiss; 2011-12: Bryan Allen; 2010-11: Bryan McCabe, Tomas Vokoun.

-- Big news on the baseball front: Looks like the Marlins might finally be getting their ballpark. Will be nice to visit the old neighborhood again...

-- Ever wanted to meet your favorite Panther and get a Boars Head sandwich on the same trip? Ever dreamed of playing poker, ponies and Jai-Alai with Randy Moller? How about picking up a nice gift for the little lady and saying hello to David Booth all at the same time? Well, this is a good time for you, pal.

The Panthers are working hard to get you to pay attention to them, and they'll be all over South Florida in the coming weeks doing just that. From radio appearances to trips to Publix, the Panthers will be hard to miss. Here's the most recent schedule of events.

And those Publix subs are good.

-- Thursday: Noah Welch on 93.9 FM @ 8:30

-- Friday: Wade Belak on 105.9 FM @ 8:30; Bryan Allen at BankAtlantic in Weston; Randy Moller, Denis Potvin and Steve Goldstein appearance at the Boys & Girls Club Golf Tournament in Boca Raton.

-- Saturday: Nathan Horton throws out first pitch @ Marlins game.

-- Sunday, Sept. 14: Tomas Vokoun and Ville Peltonen at Publix in Heron Bay (get me a sub)

-- Monday, Sept. 15: Cats Cookout at the BankAtlantic Center with Cory Stillman and Bryan McCabe; Stephen Weiss at Mayors Jewlery in Boca Raton.

-- Tuesday, Sept. 16: David Booth at Mayors Jewlery in Weston; Noah Welch at Coldstone Creamery in Weston.

-- Wednesday, Sept. 17: David Booth at Mayors-Galleria Mall; Randy Moller (uh-oh) celebrity poker player at Sports Talk 790 The Ticket tournament in Dania Beach. Jai-Alai night!

-- Thursday, Sept. 18: Booth at Mayors-Aventura Mall (he better get a sweet watch out of this gig); Brett McLean at MetroPCS in Pembroke Pines.

-- Friday, Sept. 19: Media Day at the BankAtlantic Center; Wade Belak on 105.9 FM

-- Saturday, Sept. 20: First practice, Incredible Ice.



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This is actually a good signing. Let's hope that the spoils of a huge deal doesn't make the pesky, hard hitting Ballard become lazy.

Scoring please?

Na na na na! Hey hey hey! Hello!

6 years, its JM's favorite number lol. Way to go, hopefully the contract isnt too steep, and then this will really be a steal. And for all those who think this is Bo's replacement, I think this is actually Bo's persuasion!

Way to go George, always the first on the scene! You are the best man!

This is great news! Trading away Olli hurt, especially since both Ballard and Boyton were only signed through this year, but this really makes the trade even.
Ballard was loved by everyone in Phoenix and he was being groomed as a potential long-term captain there. We are lucky to have him and I am really excited by our defense and goal-tending (even if JBo leaves after this year).
The Panthers will be a tough team to beat and will be competitive every night. Now let's concentrate on some scoring! Maybe we will get a solid scorer at the trade deadline for JBo!!!

This is a great signing and a total CYA deal. If we lost Ballard then the Jokinen trade would be a total failure. It also covers us in case Jay does leave. Ballard is a young developing 1st line D-man. The kid is a stud in the making, so it keeps our D young and strong in case Jay does bolt.

Great move IMO. If bringing in McCabe, Ballard and Boyton doesn't convince Jay we're moving in the right direction, then it's not for trying and he can get the hell out!

How about we let some players EARN the money. Ballard was going to be an RFA not a UFA, no need to sign him now. Olesz is also OVERPAID. We need to let some of our guys EARN the money. This could be why HORTON has UNDERPERFORMED. No need to play hard every night when the money is in the bank.

No he was a UFA after this season, methinks.

This is excellent news! I was nervous about his stutus because prior to today, he was an RFA after the end of this season. Didn't want him pulling a JayBo with signing a 1-year deal. I guess negotiations with Boynton, if any, will occur during or after this season.

Yes, always the first on the scene...thanks!

RFA...just finished his third year..this would be his fourth...anyway, he would have been UFA soon enough...good to, as JayBo might say, 'lock 'er down.'

GR, I couldn't agree more.

Those Publix subs ARE good.

The Ballard thing is cool too.

great signing now makes the Jokinen deal worthwhile

Watched Ballard play in high school and at the University of Minnesota (Gopher Hockey Baby!), this kid's a stud. Glad the Panthers locked him up, he'll be an All Star and will be on the 2010 Olympic Team, no doubt about it. Great signing.

Another quality signing by JM the GM. I don't hear as many criticisms about JM as before....He might not be the most exciting guy, but I think he has a good handle on the salary cap and is setting the team up for success somewhere down the road. It seems almost all his deals have value in for the long term, so when some of the young OFFENSIVE talent finally comes around, this team will be in a competitve position, both financially and on the stat sheet. The only contracts that may not be legit are Bryan Allen's and Rusty's. They are both long term. Rusty does have some upside to him, but probably is not a Top 6 FWD on most teams. He is solid on the PK and has 20-25 goal potential, so the numbers on his contract are worthy. As for Allen, he doesn't impress me much at all. Limited offense, overrated as a defender, and physical only once ina while....I would like to see him on the trade block, as it seems he does have value by others, maybe I am just blinded on this one....All in all, solid offseason moves by JM. Hopefully Matthias can really bring it. Also, I think the scouting team's jobs are in jeopardy if Frolik and Repik don't come through. After all, you have to hit on some of your picks when you are in their postition for the last decade or so...

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