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Florida Panthers sign Jack Skille to two-year deal

May 30, 2011, 11:38 PM EDT

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While the rest of the world is eating, sleeping, and drinking the Stanley Cup Finals, the Florida Panthers decided they’d do their best to steal some of the headlines. As reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Twitter, the Florida Panthers have re-signed 24-year-old right wing Jack Skille to a two-year deal worth $1.65 million. The deal is a slight raise for Skille, who signed a 1-year, $600,000 before last season. Not only will he earn more money over the next two seasons, but he’ll also get an opportunity to perform at the NHL level with the Panthers.

It’s been a busy off-season for the restricted free agent from Madison, WI. The former 7th overall pick in 2005 was part of the package sent by the Blackhawks to Florida in exchange for Michael Frolik. Obviously, Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon liked what he saw as Skille was developing at the University of Wisconsin, with Rockford in the AHL, and as he got his feet wet with the Blackhawks. Upon arriving in South Beach, he had a goal and an assist in 13 games while posting an ugly minus 12. As soon as the season ended, he headed to Slovakia as part of the American World Championship team (1 goal in 7 games).

The move for Florida is just another step as they work through what will be a busy offseason. George Richards from The Miami Herald breaks down the work they’ve had with restricted free agents:

The Panthers have already resigned RFA Keaton Ellerby and are supposedly in talks with Mike Santorelli.
RFAs Steve Bernier and Byron Bitz aren’t expected to return next season.

Like the 3-year Ellerby deal, the Skille signing keeps a young player in the middle of their rebuilding job for a few more years while they attempt to build a solid foundation. Skille has all kinds of speed and has learned as a professional to play with a physical edge and to crash the net. Obviously he’ll need to start putting the puck in the net a little more often, if he wants to have a bigger payday next time around.  But he’s a serviceable player who has plenty of upside on a team building for the future.

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