The Florida Panthers and emerging star Aaron Ekblad agreed to an eight-year, $60 million contract extension, the Miami Herald reported, citing unidentified sources within the team.
The average annual value ($7.5 million) of the most lucrative contract in Panthers history would make Ekblad the fifth highest-paid defensemen in the NHL behind P.K. Subban ($9 million), Shea Weber ($7.8), Dustin Byfuglien ($7.6) and Ryan Suter ($7.53), according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Ekblad, 20, won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year in 2014-15, and followed that up with another strong season as one of the Panthers' top defensemen in 2015-16.
In two seasons, Ekblad has scored 75 points on 27 goals and 48 assists. His career plus/minus rating is plus-30.
The top overall draft pick in 2014, Ekblad can't sign the new contract until the start of the NHL's new fiscal year at 12:01 p.m. ET Friday, and the terms won't kick in until the 2017-18 season, after his three-year, $925,000 entry-level contract expires.
According to the Herald, Ekblad isn’t expected to formally sign the new deal Friday because of the opening of the free agency period, but he will in the coming days.