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.