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Aaron Ekblad signs eight-year extension with Panthers

Florida defenseman's new contract starts in 2017-18; has 27 goals in first two seasons

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Defenseman Aaron Ekblad signed an eight-year contract extension with the Florida Panthers on Friday. Financial terms of the contract were not released, but ESPN reported the total value is $60 million. 

The contract has an annual average value of $7.5 million and will start with the 2017-18 season. He could have become a restricted free agent after 2016-17.

"We are very excited to sign Aaron to a multi-year contract," Panthers general manager Tom Rowe said. "He is an exceptionally skilled, intelligent and mature young player that is a difference maker for our team both on and off the ice. Aaron is an integral part of the foundation of our future and a cornerstone player who is continuing to develop into a true leader and one of the league's elite defensemen."

Video: Analyzing Ekblad's eight-year extension with Panthers

Ekblad, 20, had 15 goals, 10th among NHL defensemen, and 36 points in 78 games in 2015-16. He was the first pick of the 2014 NHL Draft and won the Calder Trophy in 2014-15. His 27 goals since the start of the 2014-15 season are tied for ninth among NHL defensemen.

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