Florida Panthers re-sign defenseman Dmitry Kulikov

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Cats make 23-year-old the club's second highest-paid defenseman.

The Florida Panthers have re-signed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a 3-year, $13 million contract, keeping another of the team's burgeoning crop of young blueliners in the stable.

The Panthers drafted Kulikov in the first round (14th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Last season, he appeared in 81 games and scored a career-high 8 goals to go along with 11 assists.  Unfortunately, inconsistent play and some serious mental lapses led to a career-worst -26 rating.

With a new coaching staff in place and Panthers' management making a concerted effort to build a better blue line, here's hoping Kulikov, who now has 313 NHL regular season games under his belt, blossoms into the two-way defender the club, and its fans, have only gotten glimpses of over the last five years.

The signing leaves Jimmy Hayes as the remaining RFA to not re-up with club as of yet. Hayes has elected to take the Panthers to arbitration, but a deal could still be worked out before then.

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