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Contrary to a report in February that he was unhappy and hoped to play elsewhere next season, Panthers center Nathan Horton said Tuesday he wants to sign a long-term deal with the team.

"There's no question I want to stay here. It's so much fun and it's going to be a place to be the next couple of years," Horton said at a free barbecue for fans at BankAtlantic Center. "Definitely, watching the playoffs, we're going to be there next year."

Horton and center Stephen Weiss, the team's second- and fourth-leading scorers last season, and defenseman Bryan Allen are key players among nine restricted free agents the Panthers don't have under contract for next season. Weiss won't become unrestricted for another two seasons, Horton for another three.

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