Panthers strike deal with Kopecky
The Florida Panthers needed just over a day to reach a deal with Tomas Kopecky, announcing a four-year contract for the 29-year-old forward on Wednesday.
Kopecky was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after his second season with Chicago, but the Panthers gave up a seventh-round draft pick in 2011 to obtain rights to exclusively negotiate with the player.
Kopecky is coming off career highs with 15 goals and 27 assists with Chicago, with a minus-13 rating in 81 games.
"Tomas is a proven winner who we are pleased to have signed," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement.
"He is a hard-working player who is tough to play against and recorded career highs in both goals and assists last season. He is a versatile player, who can play any forward position, has good vision at both ends of the ice and will immediately make an impact in our lineup."
Kopecky has been a part of two Stanley Cup winners — Chicago in 2010 and Detroit two years before that.
He's amassed 37 goals and 58 assists with 201 penalty minutes in 338 NHL regular-season games since the Red Wings selected him in the second round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Financial terms were not released by the club, but reports indicate the deal averages out to $3 million US a season. Kopecky earned $1.9 million last season.
Tallon spent several years in Chicago's front office and was familiar with the forward.
The GM also traded for Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell last week.