Second Top Tier Blue Liner Acquired by Cats this Week
SUNRISE, Fla. – Florida Panthers General Manager Mike Keenan announced today that the club has agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent D Ruslan Salei on a four-year contract.
"Ruslan is a top tier defenseman who we are extremely pleased to acquire," said Keenan. "He is a big, physical, competitive player that can log a lot of ice time and will be looked upon as a leader on our blue line. It was our goal to sign an experienced defenseman and we feel we have addressed this need with the acquisitions of both Salei and Bryan Allen, helping to considerably improve our club."
Salei, 32, has appeared in 594 career NHL contests, all with the Anaheim Ducks, scoring 26 goals with 79 assists and 735 PIM. The six-foot-two, 205-pound defenseman posted the best numbers of his professional career last season tallying 19 points (1-18-19) in 78 games played, playing on the Duck's top defensive pairing. His 19 points placed third among Anaheim defensemen, while he also placed third on the club logging just over 22 minutes of ice time per game.
The Minsk, Belarus native has appeared in 40 postseason contests, including helping the Ducks advance to the Stanley Cup finals in 2003 and the Western Conference finals last season. Salei has also represented his native country at the Winter Olympics two times (1998 & 2002).
Before joining the Panthers, he was the longest tenured Anaheim player and held the franchise record for most games played by a Ducks defenseman (594). Salei was originally drafted by Anaheim with their first choice (ninth overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.