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Vincent Trocheck signs contract with Panthers

Restricted free agent forward gets six years, had career-high 25 goals with Florida last season

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Forward Vincent Trocheck emerged as an important player last season and on Sunday became the latest member of the Florida Panthers to sign a long-term contract.

Trocheck, who was a restricted free agent, signed a six-year contract. Financial terms were not released, but Sportsnet reported it is worth $28.5 million, an average annual value of $4.75 million.

Trocheck's signing came one day after the Panthers signed free agent defenseman Jason Demers a five-year contract, and two days after defenseman Aaron Ekblad signed an eight-year extension and unrestricted free agent goalie James Reimer signed a five-year contract. Forward Reilly Smith signed a five-year extension Sunday and is the ninth Panthers player signed through at least the next five seasons, along with Ekblad, Demers, Reimer, defenseman Keith Yandle, goalie Roberto Luongo, and centers Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad.

The Panthers signed Yandle to a seven-year contract June 20 after acquiring him n a trade with the New York Rangers. 

"We've been signing all of our core guys to long-term deals," Trocheck said. "It just helps us feel a lot more comfortable. I think we know after last season that we have the ability to compete with anybody in the League. And with the changes that we've made and the additions that we've made, it's just a stepping stone."

Trocheck, who will turn 23 on July 11, set NHL career highs with 25 goals and 53 points in 76 games last season. Trocheck fractured his ankle blocking a shot against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 29 but returned for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and played the final two games against the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Tweet from @trocheck_89: Excited to be back with the boys for another 6 years! Can't wait to get the season started.���

Trocheck, a native of Pittsburgh, was named the NHL's second star for the week ending March 13 and was named third star of the week ending Feb. 7. During each week, Trocheck had six points in three games.

"Vincent played an important role in our success last season and will be a prominent part of the Panthers for years to come," general manager Tom Rowe said. "He is another important piece of our talented young core of players."

A third-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, Trocheck played in 70 games his first two seasons before a breakout season in 2015-16 that had Jaromir Jagr referring to him at one point as the most valuable player on the team.

"It's definitely been a ride," Trocheck said. "Last year going into camp I wasn't even really positive that I'd be on the team and I was kind of fighting for a spot. I was able to go into camp and kind of make a little bit of an impact and halfway through the year got pretty comfortable. After I got my confidence, I think it was all (better) from there.

"Now that I was able to do what I did last year, it definitely helps me going into this season. I've just got to try to build off of that now and hope that I can make strides and hopefully produce even more this year." 

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