Gustav Forsling

Gustav Forsling signed an eight-year contract with the Florida Panthers on Thursday that will begin next season. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The 27-year-old defenseman is in the final season of a three-year contract he signed with Florida on July 15, 2021, and could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Forsling, who was claimed off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 9, 2021, has 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) and a plus-44 rating in 63 games this season.

“It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am for everything this organization has done for me,” Forsling said following a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. “I remember the day I got the call saying [Florida] picked me off waivers (from the Carolina Hurricanes). I am just grateful.”

Selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the fifth round (No. 126) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Forsling has 154 points (46 goals, 108 assists) in 380 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks and Panthers, and 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 37 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“I think the situation around Gustav was pretty special,’’ Florida general manager Bill Zito said. “I mean, this guy was on waivers and this is his third organization.’’

The Panthers have a number of players who could become free agents following this season, so it was important for Zito to get one of the big ones out of the way.

Florida also is working on extending forward Sam Reinhart and defenseman Brandon Montour, each of whom can become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

The Panthers also signed Jonah Gadjovich to a two-year contract Thursday. The 25-year-old forward, who has four points (two goals, two assists) in 33 games this season, could have become a restricted free agent after this season.

Selected by Vancouver in the second round (No. 55) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Gadjovich has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 112 NHL games with the Canucks, San Jose Sharks and Panthers.

“Gadjovich came here injured and all he does is try to contribute and help his team in any way he can,” Zito said. “He continues to improve and we are thrilled to have him.”

The signings come one day after Florida acquired forward Vladimir Tarasenko in a trade with the Ottawa Senators for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft.

The Panthers (43-17-4), who have the best record in the NHL, lead the Boston Bruins by one point for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. independent correspondent George Richards contributed to this report