The Florida Panthers have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent defenseman Jason Demers on a five-year, $22.5 million contract, for an average annual value of $4.5 million.
The deal was first reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston and Demers himself confirmed the signing on his Twitter account shortly after.
Demers is a reliable defenseman who can be expected to bring stability and modest offensive upside to the Panthers’ second pairing. The 28-year-old brings strong playoff experience to an up-and-coming Florida club, having played in the post-season in six of his seven NHL campaigns, amassing 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 52 games.
Offensively, the Dorval, Que. native has been a model of consistency in his first seven NHL seasons, recording between 21 and 34 points on five occasions, with his career-high 34 points coming in 2013-14. In 423 career regular season games with the San Jose Sharks (2009-14) and Dallas Stars (2014-16), Demers has recorded 143 points (28 goals, 115 assists) and 254 penalty minutes.
Florida’s signing of Demers continues the summer makeover of the club’s blueline. The Panthers have also recently added Keith Yandle and Mark Pysyk, while parting ways with Erik Gudbranson, Dmitri Kulikov and Brian Campbell since season’s end. As well, unrestricted free agent Willie Mitchell isn’t expected to return to action due concussion issues. As it currently stands, Demers will likely slot in behind Aaron Ekblad and Yandle on Florida’s depth chart.
Demers was originally drafted by the Sharks in the seventh round (186th overall) in the 2008 NHL draft. He was acquired by the Stars along with a 2016 third-round pick from the Sharks in exchange for defenseman Brendan Dillon in November 2014.