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Portland captain, defenseman was third-round choice of Florida in 2019 NHL draft

COURTESY PHOTO: MEGAN CONNELLY/PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS - Johnny Ludvig (left) of the Portland Winterhawks collides with a Spokane Chiefs opponent.

After a breakout season, Portland Winterhawks defenseman Johnny Ludvig on Monday signed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers.

Florida selected Ludvig in the third round of the 2019 NHL draft.

"John had an outstanding season for Portland in the Western Hockey League and was among the league's top defensemen,"  Panthers president of hockey and general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement. "He is a talented defenseman who possesses great compete, physicality and character. We are excited for John's continued development and look forward to his future in the Panthers organization."

The Winterhawks' 44th team captain, this season Ludvig had 17 goals and 45 assists in 60 games for Portland. He ranked third in scoring among Western Hockey League defensemen.

It was a breakout season offensively for the 6-1, 205-pound native of Kamloops, British Columbia. In his first two seasons with Portland, Ludvig totaled nine goals and 18 assists in 109 regular-season games and had one goal and three assists in 14 playoff games.

Ludvig is eligible to play one more season in the WHL, though the Panthers will make the decision on whether he will return to Portland or begin his pro career.

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