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Jovanovski among signings as Panthers make splash

Friday, 07.01.2011 / 1:52 PM / NHL Free Agency 2011

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Jovanovski among signings as Panthers make splash
The Florida Panthers have been one of the busiest teams in early stages of free agency, signing defenseman Ed Jovanovski, forwards Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc and goaltender Jose Theodore on Friday.
Twelve years after trading Ed Jovanovski away, the Florida Panthers re-signed the defenseman to a four-year contract Friday.

That was one of four moves on an active day for the Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon, who also added forwards Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc, and goaltender Jose Theodore on a two-year deal.

Full terms of the deals were not revealed, but according to TSN, Jovanovski signed for four years and $16.5 million; Upshall for four years and $14 million; Goc for three years and $5.19 million; Theodore for two years and $3 million.

Jovanovski, a five-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist, returns to the team he broke into the NHL with after the Panthers selected him with the first pick of the 1994 Entry Draft.

"Ed is a veteran defenseman who wanted to return to Florida and we are pleased to have him back in a Panthers uniform," Tallon told the team's website. "He is a five-time NHL All-Star, who has played in more than 1,000 games and will be a mentor for our young defensemen and a leader in the locker room. Ed played an important part in the early success of our franchise and we look forward to his return to South Florida and the Panthers family."

Jovanovski, 35, was traded to Vancouver in 1999 as part of the deal that brought Pavel Bure to the Panthers. He had 14 points in 50 games with the Phoenix Coyotes last season, and played his 1,000th NHL game. In 1,019 games with the Panthers, Canucks and Coyotes, he has 133 goals and 348 assists.

Upshall arrives after posting new career highs in goals (22) and points (34) in 82 games split between the Phoenix Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets.

"Scottie is a character player that is tough to play against and we are pleased to have signed him," Tallon said. "He recorded career bests in goals and points last season and he is a player that will bring energy and enthusiasm to our lineup every night. We look forward to Scottie's contributions to our team both on and off the ice."

In 361 NHL games with the Predators, Flyers, Coyotes and Blue Jackets, the 27-year-old right wing has 86 goals and 86 assists.

Goc had 9 goals and 15 assists last season with the Nashville Predators. In six seasons with the Sharks and Predators, the 27-year-old center has 41 goals and 67 assists in 389 games.

"We are very pleased to have signed Marcel," Tallon said. "He is a solid, versatile two-way forward that will contribute on both ends of the ice and add depth to our center position."

Theodore could be a replacement for Tomas Vokoun, who is an unrestricted free agent.

The 2002 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner spent the 2010-11 season as the backup to Niklas Backstrom with the Minnesota Wild, going 15-11-3 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 32 games. The save percentage was his best since his award-winning 2001-02 season, while his GAA was the best he's posted in the last three seasons.

Theodore joins Scott Clemmensen as proven NHL goaltenders in Florida, with top prospect Jacob Markstrom also pushing for playing time.

In 580 NHL games with the Canadiens, Avalanche, Capitals and Wild, the 34-year-old Theodore has 260 wins, a 2.69 GAA and .909 save percentage.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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