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Panthers acquire AHL All-Star Welch

The Florida Panthers announced on Tuesday morning that the club has acquired AHL All-Star defenseman Noah Welch from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for left wing Gary Roberts.

“Noah is a young, physical, mobile, high character defenseman who fits the mold of the player that our organization strives to acquire,” said Panthers general manager and head coach Jacques Martin.

“He further solidifies our needs along the blue line, as he will be able to log significant minutes along with Jay Bouwmeester, Bryan Allen, Ruslan Salei and Mike Van Ryn. His strong leadership skills, keen ability to read the ice and sensational work ethic makes him the ideal player who will be a vital part of our organization’s success.”

Welch, 24, has played in 22 games for Pittsburgh this year, registering one goal and one assist with 22 penalty minutes. The Brighton, Mass., native also has appeared in 27 games for the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, registering five goals and 16 assists for 21 points along with 24 PIM. He was selected to play in the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, but missed the event while on recall to Pittsburgh.

For his career, the 6-foot-4, 212-pound blueliner has played in 27 NHL games, all with Pittsburgh, scoring two goals with four assists. He made his NHL debut on Mar. 24, 2006, vs. the New York Islanders, registering an assist, and he scored his first NHL goal the following game on Mar. 26 against Montreal.

After a standout career at Harvard University, Welch played in 77 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2005-06, recording 29 points (9g, 20a). He was also voted a starter for the PlanetUSA squad at the 2006 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic in Winnipeg.

Welch was drafted by the Penguins in the second round (54th overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.