The Florida Panthers have reportedly secured defenseman Aaron Ekblad to an eight-year contract extension worth an average annual value of $7.5 million.
That’s according to a report from Jimmy Murphy of DirtyWaterSports.
George Richards of the Miami Herald also confirmed the deal Thursday evening on Twitter.
Ekblad, 20, cannot sign a new deal with Florida until the NHL’s new fiscal year begins Friday at noon. Although Ekblad isn’t expected to formally sign anything Friday because of the opening of the free agency period, he will in the coming days.
That’s a massive pay increase for Ekblad, who has an NHL salary of $925,000 in each of the three years of his entry-level contract with the Panthers. There is still one year remaining on that deal.
Since entering the league as the first overall pick in 2014, Ekblad has 75 points in 159 games. He was also the Calder Trophy winner in 2015.
Ekblad’s ability as a defenseman and prominence, even at a young age, was also what helped attract fellow blue liner Keith Yandle to Florida.
His rights were traded to the Panthers and he signed shortly after, forgoing free agency, as he expressed excitement with the prospect of possibly playing alongside Ekblad.
As a sophomore blue liner in the NHL last season, the 20-year-old Ekblad scored 15 goals and 36 points in 78 regular season games. Only nine other NHL defensemen had more goals than him last season.