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Huberdeau signs two-year contract with Panthers

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Restricted free agent left wing Jonathan Huberdeau signed a two-year contract with the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

Financial terms of the contract were not released, but TSN reported it's worth $6.5 million.

"Fantastic," Panthers general manager Dale?Tallon said. "I'm real happy for [Huberdeau] and I’m real happy for our team. It's good to have everything settled and be a whole unit. Sometimes it takes longer than others, but I was confident we'd get it done. It was just a matter of time. You get no extra points for doing it sooner than later."

Huberdeau was expected to arrive in South Florida from Montreal on Thursday afternoon and be on the ice Friday when the Panthers hold their first practice of training camp.

Tallon said Huberdeau and his agent, Allan Walsh, were looking for a shorter-term contract.

"We originally went in at six [years] and then we went three and then we went two,"???Tallon said. "That's why it took long. We didn't start off we're just going to go a bridge deal. We were looking to see if maybe it was a long-term [contract]. We were experimenting with different scenarios."

Huberdeau, who won the Calder Trophy in 2013, led the Panthers last season with an NHL career-best 54 points in 79 games.

Huberdeau had 21 points in his last 21 games playing on a line with veteran Jaromir Jagr and center Aleksander Barkov, after Jagr arrived in a trade Feb. 26 with the New Jersey Devils.

"The goal is to get him to a point a game,"???Tallon said. "I???think he's a point-a-game guy. I look for that line, if they stay healthy and they all improve, that they can get a point a game. That he can anyway.

"It's an incentivized [contract]. There's still room for improvement. Barkov and Jagr, how they finished, it's a chance to hit a home run. I???like to have guys hungry. That'll keep him alert and keep him ready to go. It's a good bridge contract, very fair."

Jagr, getting ready for his first full season with the Panthers, said he was happy Huberdeau's contract got done before the start of training camp.

"I understand it's a business, the agents want to do the best for the players, [but]???sometimes it's just overthinking,"???Jagr said. "He's young. If we're going to have a good season, he's going to make so much money. It's good that it's happening. He can focus on hockey now."

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