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Panthers sign former Avs' first rounder

The Florida Panthers signed defenseman Peter Ratchuk, a 1996 first-round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche. The 20-year-old Ratchuk played this past season with the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior League where he had 23 goals and 54 points in 60 games. He played the 1996-97 season at Bowling Green and had nine goals and 12 assists in 35 games. "Peter is a former first-round pick of Colorado who has made the jump from college hockey to major junior hockey with the Hull Olympiques," said Panthers general manager Bryan Murray. "He is a good skating offensive defenseman with great leadership qualities and was an impact player with Hull." The Panthers also signed winger Tero Lehtera, a 10th-round pick in the 1994 draft. The Finland native played this past season with Espoo of the Finnish Elite League and had eight goals and 14 points.