SUNRISE, FL – The Florida Panthers continued to stock the blueline for the Springfield Thunderbirds by bringing back a key component to the offense. Coming back for a second season in western Massachusetts is defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, who signed a one-year two-way contract by the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

Weegar spent the 2016-17 season with the Springfield Thunderbirds, appearing in 60 games. He led Thunderbirds defensemen in scoring, with 14 goals and 22 assists for 36 points. He was also apart of the 2017 American Hockey League All-Star Classic representing the Atlantic Division.

For his professional career, he has skated in 153 AHL games with the San Antonio Rampage, Portland Pirates, and Springfield Thunderbirds. In that time, he has scored 23 goals, 47 assists for 70 points. He appeared in 21 games with the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL during the 2014-15 season where he scored a goal and received 12 assists for 13 points.

Weegar made his NHL debut on April 3, when the Panthers took on the Montreal Canadiens. He skated in two more games after that and did not register any points.

The Panthers have been busy during NHL free agency throughout the summer months re-signing players such as forwards Chase Balisy and defenseman Reece Scarlett, as well as signing new players with forwards Connor Brickley, Alexandre Grenier, Curtis Valk, and goaltender Harri Sateri.

The team news did not stop there.

Also on Thursday, the team announced Executive Vice President Nathan Costa is now the team’s president.

“Given the team’s success this year, there is no one we would rather have leading this franchise into the future than Nate Costa. We are truly proud to name him our President,” said Paul Picknelly, Thunderbirds’ Managing Owner in a news release.

Last season, the Thunderbirds sold out the MassMutual Center three times and had an average attendance of just over 44-hundred fans per game. Also, the Thunderbirds staff, under Costa’s direction, took home three business awards at the annual AHL Board of Governors meetings in June.

“I want to thank all the owners for putting their faith in me and I want to thank our entire staff for an incredible inaugural campaign,” Costa said. “It’s an honor to lead this franchise and I have no doubt that year two will be even better.”

Costa will be leading the team’s day-to-day operations and will work with the Florida Panthers on team scheduling and travel.

The Thunderbirds will kick off their 2017-18 season on the road against the Providence Bruins at the Dunkin Donuts Center on Saturday, October 7 with the home opener at the MassMutual Center against their I-91 rival, Hartford Wolf Pack, on Saturday, October 14.

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