The Florida Panthers have signed defenseman Uvis Balinskis to a two-year contract extension. The terms of the deal have not yet been revealed. Balinskis is in his first season in North American pros and has assimilated well, scoring seven points in seven AHL games and two points in 18 NHL games. Panthers general manager Bill Zito shared, “[Balinskis’] successful transition to North American play enabled him to make an immediate impact, and we are excited to have him continue as a professional within our organization.”
Balinskis has spent the last three seasons in the Czechia Extraliga, Czechia’s top league, spending two seasons with Litvinov HC and one with Liberec Bili Tygri HC. He proved productive in the league, capping off his years in Czechia with 11 goals and 35 points in 50 games – leading all of the league’s defensemen in goals and points. The year was enough to impress the Panthers, who signed Balinskis to a one-year, $950K contract in April. He is currently assigned to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, where he leads all players in points-per-game.
Bavinskis adds to what is quickly becoming a robust Panthers defense room. The team is getting great production from their blue-liners with Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour back in the lineup, and Bavinskis is joined in the AHL by depth in Lucas Carlsson – who has 24 points in 30 AHL games – and Santtu Kinnunen, a former seventh-round pick performing well in only his second year in North American pros.