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Canadiens sign Cammaleri, defensemen Spacek, Gill

MONTREAL (AP)—The Montreal Canadiens were busy again Wednesday with the signings of center Mike Cammaleri and defensemen Jaroslav Spacek(notes) and Hal Gill(notes) on the first day of free-agent shopping in the NHL.

One day after acquiring star center Scott Gomez(notes) from the New York Rangers in a six-player trade, the Canadiens signed Cammaleri to a five-year, $30-million contract, Spacek to a three-year deal worth $11.5-million, and Gill—fresh off a Stanley Cup title with the Pittsburgh Penguins—for two years and $4.5 million.

The moves put a new face on the Canadiens, who had 10 unrestricted free agents of their own on the market. The signings, including the five years remaining to pay Gomez at a $7.35-million cap hit per year, are collectively worth $82.75 million.

Cammaleri, who led the Flames with 39 goals last season, became a popular player in Calgary after being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings last season. He had 82 points in 81 games, second on the team behind linemate Jarome Iginla(notes).

He is getting a substantial raise from the $3.6 million he earned last season. In 364 career NHL games, the 27-year-old Cammaleri has 132 goals and 155 assists.

Spacek, 35, had eight goals and 45 points for the Buffalo Sabres last season, matching a career high for points set with Columbus during the 2002-03 season. He spent the past three seasons in Buffalo, where he signed as a free agent in 2006. He earned $3.3 million last season.

Spacek has 69 goals and 208 assists in 576 career NHL games.

The 6-foot-7 Gill, who began his career with Boston in 1997, joined the Penguins last season after being traded by the Toronto Maple Leafs and became part of Pittsburgh’s shutdown defensive pairing with fellow free agent Rob Scuderi(notes).

“I loved the city and the organization, but we decided to part ways,” Gill told TSN. “The timing was right.

“(Montreal) is a great organization. I’ve always loved to play in that building. It’s a new experience to go to Quebec and play, and my family is excited about that.”

The Canadiens lost veteran defenseman Mike Komisarek(notes) as a free agent to the rival Maple Leafs.
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Avalanche sign free agent goalie Craig Anderson

DENVER (AP)—The Colorado Avalanche have signed free agent goalie Craig Anderson(notes) to a two-year contract.

Anderson, who agreed to terms Wednesday, spent the past three seasons with the Florida Panthers. The 28-year-old Anderson ranked third in the league last season with a .924 save percentage in 31 games. He was 15-7-5 with a 2.71 goals-against average and three shutouts.

The 6-foot-2 goalie has played in 109 career NHL games with Chicago and Florida, posting a 36-43-13 record.
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Leafs land Komisarek, trade Kubina

No sooner had the Toronto Maple Leafs traded defenceman Pavel Kubina(notes) than they reportedly landed a worthy replacement in free-agent rearguard Mike Komisarek(notes).

Several media outlets reported Wednesday that Toronto dealt Kubina, a power-play specialist, and promising forward Tim Stapleton(notes) to the Atlanta Thrashers for defenceman Garnet Exelby(notes) and forward Colin Stuart(notes).

Kubina, 32, had one year and $5 million US remaining on his contract with Toronto, for whom he played three seasons, and Stapleton is a minor-league prospect who scored once in four games with the Maple Leafs.

By comparison, Exelby and Stuart will earn $1.7 millon US and $500,000 US, respectively, next season.

As a result, the Maple Leafs cleared over $2 million US in salary cap space and signed unrestricted free agent Komisarek, formerly of the Montreal Canadiens.

He will make $22.5 million US over five years.

Komisarek, 27, posted two goals and nine assists for 11 points with 121 penalty minutes in 66 games last season, his sixth with Montreal.

More importantly, he led the Canadiens in hits (191) and blocked shots (207).

Komisarek has totalled 12 goals and 58 points with 496 penalty minutes in 361 NHL games since he was drafted seventh overall by Montreal in 2001.
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Booth, Dvorak agree to terms with Panthers


MIAMI (AP)—The Florida Panthers agreed to a six-year contract extension with David Booth(notes), shortly after the young forward became a restricted free agent on Wednesday.

The deal was announced early in the NHL’s free-agent signing season.

In 72 games for the Panthers last season, Booth recorded 31 goals and 29 assists, both career highs. The 24-year-old Michigan native also became the sixth player in franchise history to score at least 30 goals. He led the team with 246 shots.

“I’m really pumped to be in the organization,” Booth said. “This is one of the best days of my life.”

Florida’s third choice (53rd overall) in the 2004 draft, Booth has 56 goals and 54 assists in his 193 NHL games. Booth, who has been invited to attend USA Hockey’s Olympic orientation camp next month, remains part of a hockey club that hasn’t won a playoff series since 1996 or a playoff game since 1997.

“We’re just delighted,” assistant general manager Randy Sexton said. “I think David embodies everything that we believe is the ideal Panther. … For us, it was critical to get this guy signed.”

Defenseman Ville Koistinen(notes) also agreed to terms on a two-year deal on Wednesday and the Panthers added goalie Scott Clemmensen(notes), who agreed to a three-year contract. Goalie Craig Anderson(notes), who had spent the past three seasons with the Panthers, signed a two-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the day.

“He’s going to do a great job for us,” Sexton said. “We don’t think we’ll skip a beat with Anderson gone and Scott Clemmensen here.”

In 40 games with the New Jersey Devils last season, Clemmensen, 32, was 25-13-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. His signing casts some doubt on whether Tomas Vokoun(notes) will be Florida’s top goalie next season.

“We fully expect a real competitive situation for the starting position,” Sexton said.

After Florida’s deal with the 28-year-old Koistinen was announced, Sexton said the chances the team would also sign defenseman Jordan Leopold(notes) were slim. Leopold, a free agent, had his exclusive negotiating rights traded to the Panthers on Saturday for the rights to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester(notes), who signed a multiyear contract with Calgary on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question,” Sexton said, “but I’d say it’s remote.”

The Panthers also announced that right wing Radek Dvorak(notes) has agreed to terms on a two-year deal. Dvorak, 32, had 15 goals and 21 assists during the 2008-09 season.
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Sabres land free-agent D Montador

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Unable to meet defensman Jaroslav Spacek’s(notes) contract demands, the Buffalo Sabres wasted little time to find an experienced—but less expensive—replacement: Steve Montador(notes).

The seven-year NHL veteran agreed to a two-year $3.1 million contract shortly after free-agency opened Wednesday. He’ll make $1.55 million—nearly double what he earned last year—in each season.

Montador had four goals and 17 assists in 78 games last season, which he finished with Boston after being acquired from Anaheim in March. He is a physical player who picked up 143 penalty minutes last season.

Listed at 6-feet and 211 pounds, Montador lacks Spacek’s offensive touch, but does provide the Sabres with more toughness along the blue line.

“We think there’s still an upside to his game,” general manager Darcy Regier said, referring to Montador. “And knowing that we were going to lose Jaro, we felt we needed to bring someone in. … With the grittiness and toughness he brings, it’s an added dimension for us.”

The Sabres had given up on re-signing Spacek, who became a free agent after rejecting the team’s one-year contract offer. Spacek, who led Buffalo defensemen with eight goals and 45 points last season, signed a three-year contract reportedly worth $11.5 million with Montreal on Wednesday.

Montador jumped at the opportunity to play with the Sabres, because of the immediate interest they showed in him, and because Buffalo is a short drive from his family and friends in Mississauga, Ontario.

“It was an easy decision on a number of levels,” Montador said by phone. “One, it’s always been a competitive team. … And another point, it’s close to home. I haven’t been this close in a number of years.”

Undrafted after completing his Canadian junior career, Montador broke into the NHL with Calgary during the 2001-02 season. He also spent three seasons playing with Florida, including 2007-08, when he had career bests with eight goals and 23 points in 73 games.

Montador will be given an opportunity to compete for a job among the Sabres top-two defensive pairings, which will include returning veterans Craig Rivet(notes), Toni Lydman(notes) and Henrik Tallinder(notes). The Sabres are also high on several youngsters including Andrej Sekera(notes) and Chris Butler(notes).

Tyler Myers(notes), the team’s 2008 first-round draft pick, will also be given an opportunity to make the team this season, though he’s still eligible to play junior hockey.
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Chris Neil is contemplating three solid offers and will make his decision shortly.

The New York Rangers offered a four year deal to Neil, averaging $2.3 million per season, while the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs have both tabled three year offers to the Toronto native.

Sources say while the Rangers have made the most substantial bid, the veteran forward is weighing the appeal of staying in Canada which is making his decision more difficult.

Earlier in the week, Neil reportedly turned down the Senators' offer of $1.7-million per year.

Neil, 30, tied a career-low with ten points and set a career-low with a minus-13 in 60 games last season.

The 6-foot-1, 214-pound right winger can still mix it up, however, getting in 14 fights last season; his highest total since 2002-2003.
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DATE NAME From To Total Years Avg/Yr
Jul 1, 6:22PM Pahlsson, Samuel Chicago Columbus $7.95M 3 $2.65M
Jul 1, 6:13PM Sullivan, Steve Nashville Nashville $7.5M 2 $3.75M
Jul 1, 6:09PM Begin, Steve Dallas Boston $850K 1 $850K
Jul 1, 5:55PM Komisarek, Mike Montreal Toronto $22.5 5 $4.5M
Jul 1, 5:48PM Fiddler, Vernon Nashville Phoenix $2.2M 2 $1.1M
Jul 1, 5:45PM Zanon, Greg Nashville Minnesota $5.8M 3 $1.93M
Jul 1, 5:43PM Bitz, Byron Boston Boston n/a n/a n/a
Jul 1, 5:32PM Cammalleri, Mike Calgary Montreal $30M 5 $6M
Jul 1, 5:11PM Koci, David Tampa Bay Colorado $575K 1 $575K
Jul 1, 5:10PM Huskins, Kent San Jose San Jose $3.4M 2 $1.7M
Jul 1, 4:46PM Gill, Hal Pittsburgh Montreal $4.5M 2 $2.25M
Jul 1, 4:46PM Rupp, Michael New Jersey Pittsburgh $1.65M 2 $825K
Jul 1, 4:39PM Laperriere, Ian Colorado Philadelphia $3.5M 3 $1.17M
Jul 1, 4:33PM Clemmensen, Scott New Jersey Florida $3.6M 3 $1.2M
Jul 1, 4:26PM Cole, Erik Carolina Carolina $5.8M 2 $2.9M
Jul 1, 4:08PM Pardy, Adam Calgary Calgary n/a n/a n/a
Jul 1, 4:07PM Khabibulin, Nikolai Chicago Edmonton $15M 4 $3.75M
Jul 1, 3:56PM Spacek, Jaroslav Buffalo Montreal $11.5M 3 $3.83M
Jul 1, 3:41PM Boucher, Brian San Jose Philadelphia $1.85M 2 $925K
Jul 1, 3:18PM Krajicek, Lukas Tampa Bay Tampa Bay n/a 1 n/a
Jul 1, 3:12PM Ward, Joel Nashville Nashville $3M 2 $1.5M
Jul 1, 3:11PM Rome, Aaron Columbus Vancouver $550K 1 $550K
Jul 1, 3:11PM Niedermayer, Scott Anaheim Anaheim $6M 1 $6M
Jul 1, 2:56PM Brashear, Donald Washington NY Rangers $2.8M 2 $1.4M
Jul 1, 2:55PM Knuble, Mike Philadelphia Washington $5.6M 2 $2.8M
Jul 1, 2:44PM Montador, Steve Boston Buffalo $3.1M 2 $1.55M
Jul 1, 2:32PM Kopecky, Tomas Detroit Chicago $2.4M 2 $1.2M
Jul 1, 2:26PM Roloson, Dwayne Edmonton NY Islanders $5M 2 $2.5M
Jul 1, 2:09PM Walker, Matt Chicago Tampa Bay $6.8M 4 $1.7M
Jul 1, 2:09PM Conklin, Ty Detroit St. Louis $2.6M 2 $1.3M
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Rangers general manager Glen Sather said he had been given an opportunity to bid on Dany Heatley, but passed. He spent the same on Marian Gaborik as he would have on Heatley, whose reputation is toxic, and without yielding an asset, though there's no law it had to be a one-or-the-other. Indeed, Sather said it wasn't.

New York Post
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With the first day of free agency in the books, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is in Sweden with the priority of getting goaltender Jonas Gustavsson signed, sealed and delivered. Not an easy challenge, especially since the Dallas Stars -- reportedly the Leafs' No. 1 challenger for Gustavsson's services -- are now being run by recently hired general manager Joe Nieuwendyk who, as an employee of the Leafs up until last month, likely is well aware of Toronto's recruiting pitch.

Toronto Sun
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The Ottawa Senators are on the hook for a $4 million signing bonus to forward Dany Heatley. Like he did on Tuesday, the disgruntled forward declined to waive his no-movement clause by Midnight eastern on Wednesday to facilitate a trade to the Edmonton Oilers. The Senators had agreed to a deal with the Oilers on Tuesday night that would have sent Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner and Ladislav Smid to Ottawa in exchange for Heatley. Heatley was asked to waive his no-movement clause by the Senators but he didn't oblige.

TSN.ca
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LaRose re-signs with Hurricanes for 2 years


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—The Carolina Hurricanes locked up another of their free agents Thursday, re-signing forward Chad LaRose(notes) to a two-year deal.

LaRose, 27, will make $1.5 million this upcoming season and $1.9 million in 2010-11. He made $875,000 last season—by far his best in the NHL.

“Chad has grown into a key player for our franchise,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “He had his best year last season and is an important penalty killer and popular player in our locker room and with our fans.”

LaRose, a one-time undrafted free agent, had career highs of 81 games played, 19 goals and 31 points while helping the Hurricanes reach the Eastern Conference finals.

He briefly tested the free agent market but ultimately became the third high-profile forward to re-sign with Carolina this week, following Erik Cole(notes) and Jussi Jokinen(notes), who also agreed to two-year deals to stay in Raleigh.
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Thrashers sign Antropov from Rangers


ATLANTA (AP)—The Atlanta Thrashers signed free agent forward Nik Antropov(notes) to a four-year, $16 million contract on Thursday, setting up a reunion with Ilya Kovalchuk(notes).

The 29-year-old Antropov played with Kovalchuk in Russia during the NHL lockout. General manager Don Waddell said Kovalchuk endorsed the signing with a text message saying “great job.”

Kovalchuk’s approval is important. The Thrashers’ captain and biggest star is entering his free-agent season, and has said he wants to see the team’s offseason moves before he talks about signing a new deal.

Waddell said the Antropov signing should help the team re-sign Kovalchuk.

“Certainly, it’s going to help us through the process,” Waddell said. “Ilya wants to be part of a winning organization and this is a big step in the right direction.”

On Wednesday, Waddell acquired defenseman Pavel Kubina(notes) in a four-player deal with Toronto.

“I said we didn’t need a lot of pieces, we needed key pieces, and that’s what we’ve added,” Waddell said.

Antropov set a career high with 59 points and 28 goals with Toronto and the New York Rangers last season. He was traded to the Rangers on March 4.

He had 56 points with the Maple Leafs during the 2007-08 season.

Waddell said he will complete the free-agency period before opening talks with Kovalchuk. He said both parties want to conclude negotiations before the 2009-10 season.

“My feeling is once we get at it, hopefully it will move along relatively quickly,” Waddell said. “There’s not a rush to get there today or tomorrow.”

The Thrashers also re-signed forward Chris Thorburn(notes) on Thursday. Thorburn had 15 points, including seven goals, in a career-high 82 games last season.

Antropov (6-6, 230) and Kubina (6-4, 244) add significant size to the Thrashers’ roster, after the team committed to such smaller players as Bryan Little(notes) and Rich Peverley(notes).

“We thought to give them the best chance of having some success we needed to surround them with some size,” Waddell said.
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Blackhawks sign veteran center John Madden


CHICAGO (AP)—The Chicago Blackhawks signed John Madden(notes) on Thursday, adding a veteran center who has spent his entire 10-year career with the New Jersey Devils.

The 36-year-old Madden signed a one-year contract. Terms were not disclosed.

Madden helped the Devils make the playoffs the last nine seasons, including Stanley Cup titles in 2000 and 2003. He has 140 goals and 157 assists for his career during the regular season. A year ago, he had 16 assists and seven goals in 76 games.

“John is a proven winner and one of the premier defensive forwards in the game who also has the talent to contribute with timely offense,” Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon said. “Adding his experience to our team is an important piece to the puzzle.”

Earlier this week, the Blackhawks signed Marian Hossa(notes) to a 12-year, $62.8 million deal and added forward Tomas Kopecky(notes). Those two played last season with Detroit. The Blackhawks also lost last season’s leading scorer Martin Havlat(notes), who signed a six-year deal with Minnesota.

Madden, who is from Barrie, Ontario, and played at Michigan, won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 2001 as the NHL’s best defensive forward. He was runner-up for the award in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
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Coyotes sign Aucoin to 1-year contract

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP)—Free agent defenseman Adrian Aucoin(notes) has signed a one-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, giving the team a veteran presence on and off the ice.

Coyotes general manager Don Maloney called Aucoin an “an intelligent, puck-moving defenseman who will help improve our power play and bring leadership to our locker room.”

The deal was announced Thursday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The 35-year-old former All-Star had 10 goals and 24 assists in 81 games last season with the Calgary Flames.

He has 108 goals and 228 assists in 851 career NHL games with Vancouver, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Calgary and the New York Islanders.
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Mark Recchi agrees to 1-year deal with Bruins


BOSTON (AP)—Mark Recchi(notes) joined the Boston Bruins hoping to win his fourth Stanley Cup ring. He decided to stay to take another shot at it.

The NHL’s sixth-leading active goal scorer signed a one-year deal Thursday to return to the Bruins.

The 41-year-old Recchi, obtained in a March 4 trade from Tampa Bay, said four days after the Bruins were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs that he might retire if they didn’t offer him a contract.

“He was of the mind that he had such a wonderful experience that if the club would like him to come back, he’d consider it,” Recchi’s agent Richard Curran said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He wanted to come back and finish what they started.”

The Bruins acquired Recchi as they tried to improve for the stretch drive. Boston ended up with the best record in the Eastern Conference but lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in a seven-game, second-round series.

Recchi has been part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams—Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992 and Carolina in 2006. He has 545 goals and 897 assists for 1,442 points in 1,490 regular-season games for seven clubs. He had six goals and 10 assists in 18 regular-season games with Boston.

Curran thought Recchi might have kept playing even if the Bruins didn’t bring him back.

“There were so many teams that expressed interest, a couple in particular, that he might have played,” Curran said. “He’s still got lots of gas in his tank.”

The signing followed three others announced by the Bruins on Wednesday with forwards Steve Begin(notes) and Byron Bitz(notes) and defenseman Johnny Boychuck.

Begin signed a one-year deal after finishing last season with Dallas following 4 1/2 years in Montreal. Bitz signed a multiyear contract after an impressive rookie season, and Boychuck got a one-year deal after scoring 20 goals in the AHL last season.

Boston lost free agent defenseman Steve Montador(notes), obtained the same day as Recchi, to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Bruins wanted Recchi back after seeing the 20-year veteran’s ability, determination and influence on younger players. He played the final game against Carolina after undergoing surgery to remove a kidney stone the previous night.

“Obviously, I was pretty sore,” Recchi said. “I don’t wish it on my worst enemy, but we all play through stuff. It’s really no big deal.”

Recchi ranks 14th in NHL history in games and points, 18th in assists and 26th in goals. Among active players, he is second in points and assists, third in games and sixth in goals.

Last season, his totals in 80 games with Tampa Bay and Boston were 23 goals and 38 assists. He added three goals and three assists in 11 playoff games.

Forward P.J. Axelsson(notes), who has spent all of his 11 seasons with Boston, is an unrestricted free agent but will consider returning, general manager Peter Chiarelli said. Forward Stephane Yelle(notes), who played one season with the Bruins, will not return.