Panthers, Demers agree on 5-year, $22.5 million contract


Former Dallas Stars defeceman Jason Demers.

Jason Demers has reached agreement on a $22.5-million, five-year contract with the Florida Panthers, Sportsnet has learned.

The right-shooting defenceman was a highly coveted commodity on the free-agent market and garnered multiple offers when the signing period opened Friday. Florida is believed to have entered the process somewhat late after the first wave of deals passed without him agreeing to one.

He wound up taking a little less than other teams were offering in order to join the Panthers, according to sources. His contract includes a $1-million signing bonus payable right away and a limited eight-team no-trade clause over the first four seasons.

Demers visited Edmonton earlier in the week to meet with Oilers management, but wound up testing the open market.

The 28-year-old spent most of the last two seasons in Dallas, where he had seven goals and 23 points in 62 games for the Stars in 2015-16. He was originally a seventh-round pick by San Jose and has spent the last seven years in the NHL.

The Demers signing continues an ambitious off-season for the Panthers, who inked defenceman Keith Yandle to a $44.45-million, seven-year contract after trading for his rights last week and locked up 20-year-old Aaron Ekblad with a $60-million, eight-year extension on Friday.

Their revamped blue line also includes Mark Pysyk, who was acquired in a trade from Buffalo at last weekend’s entry draft.

On Friday, the Panthers signed free-agent goaltender James Reimer to a $17-million, five-year deal while bringing in depth forwards Jonathan Marchessault and Colton Sceviour as well.

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