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Thrashers sign free agents Gratton, Vernace

Thursday, 07.30.2009 / 4:35 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

The Atlanta Thrashers have signed two unrestricted free agents, forward Josh Gratton and defenseman Mike Vernace. Terms of the deals were not released.

Gratton, 26, appeared in 19 NHL games with Philadelphia last season, scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists, along with 57 penalty minutes. He had 2 goals, 3 assists and 10 penalty minutes in seven games with Milwaukee of the AHL, and a goal and 46 penalty minutes in 14 games with the Flyers' AHL farm team, the Phantoms.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound left wing has appeared in 86 NHL games during four seasons with Philadelphia and Phoenix, totaling 3 goals, 6 points, and 294 penalty minutes. The Brantford, Ont., native has 71 points and 840 penalty minutes in 213 AHL games with five teams.

Vernace, 23, appeared in 12 NHL games with Colorado in 2008-09, recording eight penalty minutes, and 65 games with Lake Erie of the AHL, totaling 3 goals and 14 assists. He made his NHL debut with the Avalanche on March 17 against Minnesota.

The 6-2, 200-pound defenseman has appeared in 174 career AHL games over three seasons with Lake Erie and Albany, recording 58 points.

Quote of the Day

We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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