Panthers re-sign Kulikov: three years, $13 million

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The Florida Panthers have locked up one of their young defensive cornerstones, inking Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year, $13 million extension on Friday.

Kulikov, 23, is coming off a campaign in which he set career highs for games played (81) and goals (eight). The Russian rearguard also averaged nearly 22 minutes a night while finishing second among Florida defensemen in hits and fourth in blocked shots — as a result, he’ll now pull in $4.3M annually and become the team’s second highest-paid blueliner in the process.

The Panthers’ first-round selection (14th overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Kulikov is the third young d-man to re-up with the team in recent weeks — eight days ago, Erik Gudbranson inked a two-year tender and four days ago, Dylan Olsen signed a two-year deal as well. With those deals in place, Florida projects to have a potential top-six defense of Brian Campbell, Willie Mitchell, Aaron Ekblad, Kulikov, Gudbranson and Olsen… which isn’t too shabby at all.