Defenseman Jason Demers signed a five-year contract with the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Financial terms were not announced, but Sportsnet reported the contract is worth $22.5 million, an average annual value of $4.5 million.
The addition of Demers, 28, further solidifies the blue line for the Panthers, who signed Aaron Ekblad to an eight-year contract extension on Friday and traded for Keith Yandle on June 20.
"We are excited to sign Jason and we are thrilled that he chose Florida," Panthers general manager Tom Rowe said. "He will play an integral role on our blue line and will help our transition game and special teams. This is another important signing for us this offseason."
Demers was a big part of the Dallas Stars' success this season, finishing with a career-best seven goals, 23 points and a plus-16 rating. He averaged 20:52 of ice time and played in all situations. He was the only Dallas defenseman to score on the power play and when the Stars were shorthanded.
Demers injured his shoulder March 8 against the Montreal Canadiens and missed 13 games before returning for the regular-season finale, then dressed for all of Dallas' 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games. But he wasn't the same player. Demers had three points, all assists, and averaged 19:12 of ice time, a drop of 1:40 per game from the regular season. He was partnered with Kris Russell for most of the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues, and the pairing struggled to cope with the Blues' heavy forecheck.
Demers, who has 28 goals and 115 assists in 423 career games, can move the puck quickly and efficiently. He likes to join the rush, a key skill in today's up-tempo NHL. He's mobile, a good passer, has a big shot and will take the body when needed, though he needs to do it more consistently. Demers, 28, brings veteran experience and leadership as well.