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Cats Ink Ballard To Six Year Deal

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Keith Ballard, who was acquired on draft day, signed a six-year extension with the Cats Tuesday. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL – Florida Panthers General Manager Jacques Martin announced today that the club has agreed to terms with D Keith Ballard on a six-year contract extension, beginning with the 2009-10 season. Ballard becomes the fifth Panthers player to sign for five or more years, joining D Bryan Allen, RW Nathan Horton, LW Rostislav Olesz and C Stephen Weiss.

“Keith is a talented, puck moving defenseman, that plays a robust style, who will play a pivotal role on our team for many years to come,” said Martin. “Since we acquired Keith at the draft this year, it has always been a top priority to reach a long term extension with him. We are very pleased to have reached this agreement prior to the start of training camp and we are confident that he will play a major role in the future success of the Florida Panthers organization.”

Ballard, 25, has played in 233 career National Hockey League contests, all with the Phoenix Coyotes, scoring 19 goals with 68 assists and 243 PIM. He set NHL career highs in goals (8), assists (31) and points (39) during the 2005-06 season.

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The Baudette, Minnesota native won back-to-back National Championships with the University of Minnesota in 2002 and 2003. He was also a finalist for the 2004 Hobey Baker Memorial Award during his final season at Minnesota. Ballard has also competed for the United States in each of the last two World Championships. He posted two assists and 16 PIM in the 2008 World Championship and one goal in eight games during the 2007 tournament.

Florida acquired Ballard on June 19, 2008 along with D Nick Boynton and a second round draft pick from Phoenix in exchange for C Olli Jokinen.  Ballard was Buffalo’s first pick (11th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

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