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FREE AGENT FRENZY: Florida Panthers busy early on in signing Bolland, J.Jokinen, Thornton, MacKenzie and Montoya

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards
The Panthers were a busy bunch as the free agency period kicked off Tuesday at noon.
First, Florida inked former Carolina and Pittsburgh winger Jussi Jokinen to a four-year deal worth $16 million.
Soon afterward, center Dave Bolland joined the team with a five-year deal worth $5.5 million each season. Bolland, drafted by Florida GM Dale Tallon in Chicago, is a two-time Stanley Cup champ with the Blackhawks. He spent a rough season in Toronto last year as he missed a big part of the season after suffering a severed ankle tendon.
The Panthers also officially said goodbye to enforcer Krys Barch as Boston tough Shawn Thornton was signed to a reported two-year deal. Thornton has spent the past seven seasons in Boston but also has a Tallon connection as he once played in Chicago.
Thornton has played in 559 NHL games and has incurred 906 penalty minutes.
Florida also brought in some competition for the backup goaltending job by signing former University of Michigan standout Al Montoya.
Montoya, the first Cuban-American to ever play in the NHL, spent the past four years with the Islanders and Jets.
The fifth player to sign on with Florida was another forward as former Columbus center Derek MacKenzie signed a three-year pact. MacKenzie, who was drafted and broke in with the old Atlanta Thrashers, is expected to compete for a spot on one of Florida bottom two lines.
The Panthers now need to go after some defensemen and word is that is exactly what they are doing.
Stay tuned.
More to come as the free agency period rolls on.
Follow me on Twitter @GeorgeRichards for information as it comes in.

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