Florida Panthers defenceman Keith Ballard was rewarded Tuesday with a six-year, $25.2-million US contract extension.
Ballard, 25, is committed to the Panthers until the 2014-15 NHL season.
"Keith is a talented, puck-moving defenceman that plays a robust style and who will play a pivotal role on our team for many years to come," Panthers general manager Jacques Martin said. "Since we acquired Keith at the draft this year, it has always been a top priority to reach a long-term extension with him."
The Panthers received Ballard, rearguard Nick Boynton and a second-round draft pick from the Phoenix Coyotes in a July 20 trade for top forward Olli Jokinen.
Ballard posted six goals and 15 assists for 21 points with a plus-seven rating in 82 games with Phoenix last season.
The Baudette, Minn., native has totalled 19 goals and 87 points in 233 games since he was drafted 11th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2002.
"We're very pleased to have reached this agreement prior to the start of training camp," Martin said. "We're confident that he will play a major role in the future success of the Florida Panthers."With files from the Associated Press