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Panthers sign Jonathan Huberdeau to six-year contract extension

Florida Panthers v New York Islanders - Game Six

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers skates against the New York Islanders in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on April 24, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders won the game 2-1 in double overtime to win the series four games to two. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Florida Panthers have signed another one of their core players to a long-term contract extension.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on Tuesday afternoon that the Panthers and forward Jonathan Huberdeau were closing in on a six-year contract extension that could be worth close to $6 million per season, a report that was later confirmed by Huberdeau’s agent, Allan Walsh.

Huberdeau is entering the final year of his current contract and is scheduled to count $3.25 million against the salary cap this season.

His new deal should be similar to the one signed by forward Aleksander Barkov last year when he agreed to a six-year, $35.4 million extension. That deal carries an average salary cap hit of $5.9 million per season.

The Panthers have one of the most promising young cores in the NHL and have gone to great lengths to keep them all together for the foreseeable future, already signing several of them to long-term contracts.

Along with Barkov, who is signed through the end of the 2021-22 season, the Panthers have also signed Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Reilly Smith and Aaron Ekblad to long-term deals. Adding Huberdeau’s potential deal into the mix they could have that core of six players all signed through at least 2021 at a total salary cap of less than $34 million per season. Considering how productive all of them already are, and the fact those players could still have their best years ahead of them (the oldest of that group is Smith at 25; Bjugstad is the only other one older than 23), that is a fantastic position for the team to be sitting in from a salary cap perspective.

When it comes to his on-ice production the 2015-16 season was Huberdeau’s best one in the NHL, finishing with 20 goals and 39 assists in 76 games. He spent a large portion of the year skating on a line with Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, a trio that was one of the most dominant lines in the NHL when it was together.

It’s been a busy offseason for the Panthers with some turnover and reorganizing in the front office, to some significant additions on the ice with defensemen Keith Yandle and Jason Demers.

Already a team on the rise, the Panthers look like they could be ready to be one of the top Stanley Cup contenders in the Eastern Conference along with Pittsburgh, Washington and Tampa Bay.

They won the NHL’s Atlantic Division in 2015-16 with 103 points.

[All salary data via General Fanager]