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Florida Panthers buy out defenseman Ed Jovanovski

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Cats place veteran defender on waivers, will buy out final year of contract.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: compliance buyout is complete, per the club.

According to reports, the Florida Panthers have placed captain Ed Jovanovski on unconditional waivers, a precursor to buying out the final year of his contract.

Florida will save $4.125 million of cap space by using the first of their two available compliance buyouts. If the 38-year-old Jovanovski passes through waivers, he will become an unrestricted free-agent if he wishes to continue his long, illustrious NHL career.

The Panthers originally drafted Jovanovski with the first overall pick in the 1994 Entry Draft. He was part of the blockbuster 1999 deal that netted the club sniper Pavel Bure. After a lengthy stint in Vancouver, the All-Star defender played five seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes before he returned to South Florida, signing a four-year deal with the Cats on July 1, 2011.

Due to injury issues, Jovanovski has only been able to suit up for 109 of a possible 212 regular season games over the last three years. In January, the veteran blue-liner returned to the Panthers' lineup after undergoing a radical hip resurfacing procedure.

Many expected the club to let the JovoCop play out the final year of his contract, but that is no longer the case. A roster spot is now open for a player who should be a bigger part of the team's future, as it should be. This had to be a tough decision for the organization, which holds Jovanovski in high regard, but it's the right one. It will interesting to see if the grizzled vet finally decides to hang up his skates, or gives it one more go with another team. If he chooses the former, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see working for the team in some capacity in the near future.