Panthers lock up D Salei on four-year, $12.1M deal

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Ruslan Salei to a four-year, $12.1-million contract on Sunday.

"Ruslan is a top-tier defenseman who we are extremely pleased to acquire," Panthers general manager Mike Keenan said. "He is a big, physical, competitive player that can log a lot of ice time and will be looked upon as a leader on our blue line."

Salei had a career-high 19 points (one goal, 18 assists) during the regular season. In 594 career games with the Anaheim Ducks, the 32-year-old defenseman has 26 goals and 79 assists.

The Belarus native has appeared in 40 playoff games and represented his country twice at the Winter Olympics (1998, 2002).

Before joining the Panthers, he was the longest-tenured Anaheim player and held the franchise record for most games played by a Ducks defenseman.

He was chosen by Anaheim with the No. 9 pick in the 1996 draft.