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Panthers Sign Three

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Wade Belak (Getty Images)

Cats Inks D Luke Beaverson to Entry Level Contract

SUNRISE, Fla. – Florida Panthers General Manager Jacques Martin announced today that the club has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with RW Wade Belak and C Kamil Kreps. In addition, the club has agreed to terms with D Luke Beaverson on an entry level contract.

Belak, 31, was acquired by Florida from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 26, 2008, in exchange for a fifth round draft pick in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft. The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native played in the Panthers’ final 17 games, registering no points and 12 penalty minutes. In 47 games played for both Florida and Toronto last year, Belak recorded one goal with 78 penalty minutes.

“Wade is a high character, hard working player and versatile player who immediately made an impact on our team last season,” said Martin. “He provides our club with a tremendous physical presence and we look forward to his continued contributions to our team both on and off the ice for the next two years.”

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound winger has played for four teams (Calgary, Colorado, Toronto & Florida) in his 11-year NHL career, scoring 29 points (8-21-29) with 1,108 penalty minutes. Belak has appeared in 22 career playoff games, all with Toronto, scoring one goal with 36 penalty minutes.

Belak was originally drafted by Quebec with their first choice, (12th overall), in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

Kamil Kreps (Getty Images)
Kreps, 23, played in 76 games for the Panthers this season scoring eight goals with 17 assists and a plus-10 rating. After being recalled from the Rochester Americans (AHL) for the second time on Oct. 22, 2007, he remained with the club playing in the team’s final 74 games of the 2007-08 campaign. His 25 points placed as the 19th highest rookie total in the National Hockey League. Kreps also owned the best face-off winning percentage on the Panthers, winning 53.9% of his draws.

“Kamil is an example of the strong and young talent that we have developed within our organization,” Martin said. “He proved this past season that he can contribute offensively to our team, while also playing a sound and responsible defensive game.”

The Litomerice, Czech Republic native, played in 14 games for the Panthers during the 2006-07 season, scoring his first career NHL goal on April 6, 2007 vs. Tampa Bay. He made his NHL debut on Jan. 7, 2007 at Vancouver.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound center was originally drafted by Florida with their third choice (38th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Beaverson, 23, completed his senior season at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, playing in 30 games scoring one goal with two assists and 24 penalty minutes. It marked the fourth consecutive season that he played in at least 30 games during his tenure with the UAA Seawolves.  Upon the completion of the season, the St. Paul, Minnesota, native earned WCHA Academic All-Conference honors for third time in his career and received the Jack Peterson Student-Athlete award.

“Beaverson, who served as his team’s captain this past season, is another high character player who we are pleased to have signed,” said Martin. “He is a big, strong and durable defenseman who will continue to develop playing at the professional level.”

Beaverson was selected by Florida with their seventh choice, (283rd overall), in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

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