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NHL Free Agency 2010

Auld signs with Canadiens

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 1:56 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

The Montreal Canadiens have signed veteran goalie Alex Auld to back up Carey Price.

Auld split last season between the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers, going 9-6-3 with the Stars and 0-1-0 with the Rangers.

Niittymaki to Sharks

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 1:50 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

The San Jose Sharks have signed goalie Antero Niittymaki to a two-year contract.

The veteran goalie was 21-18-5 last season with a .909 save percentage and 2.87 GAA with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009-10. Niittymaki is 83-79-28 with a 2.98 GAA and .903 save percentage in 210 career games.

The move comes on the heels of the Sharks' decision not to offer Evgeni Nabokov a new contract with the team. Nabokov won 293 regular-season games during his 10 seasons in San Jose, but shouldered much of the load for the team's postseason failures.

Armstrong to Leafs

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 1:46 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Toronto GM Brian Burke dipped his itchy trigger fingers into the free agency waters Thursday afternoon and out Colby Armstrong for three years at $3 million per. Armstrong had been with the Atlanta Thrashers since the 2008 trade deadline when Pittsburgh sent him there in the Marian Hossa trade.

Armstrong fits Burke's mold as a plucky, tough forward with offensive skills. The 27-year-old right wing has 178 points in 360 NHL games. He scored a career-high 22 goals in 2008-09 when he also matched his career high with 40 points. His numbers dipped to 15 goals and 29 points this past season.

Blues re-sign Steen, Sobotka

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 1:16 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

John McGourty - Staff Writer

The St. Louis Blues have re-signed restricted free agents Alexander Steen and Vladimir Sobotka. Both players have played center and left wing.

Steen, 26, is coming off the best season of his five-year NHL career, tying for the Blues' team lead with 24 goals and adding 23 assists for 47 points in 68 games. He was plus-6 with 30 penalty minutes. Steen scored seven power-play goals, two shorthanded and had four game winners. Steen dished out 45 hits, blocked 39 shots and had 24 takeaways.

Steen, a 6-foot-1, 206-pound left-handed shooter, was a first-round pick, No. 24, of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002. The Blues traded Lee Stempniak to the Maple Leafs for defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and Steen on Nov. 24, 2008. He has 80 goals and 117 assists for 197 points in 382 NHL games and is minus-8 with 160 penalty minutes.

Rangers agree to terms with Derek Stepan

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 12:56 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

The New York Rangers have signed forward Derek Stepan. He was selected in the second round, No. 51, in the 2008 Entry Draft.

Stepan, 20, served as captain of Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championships, leading the United States to a gold medal. He led all skaters in assists (10) and points (14) in seven games en route to being named to the tournament All-Star Team, as selected by the media.

This season, Stepan scored 12 goals and 42 assists and had 8 penalty minutes in 41 games with the University of Wisconsin. He established career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes. Stepan ranked among the NCAA leaders in several scoring categories, finishing tied for first in the nation in assists and ranked second in points. He also led the WCHA in points, assists and power play assists (22), and tied for fifth in power play points (23). The second-year player led his team in assists and points, tied for third in game-winning goals (3) and seventh in goals while surpassing the 40-assist and 50-point marks for the first time in his collegiate career.

Hurricanes sign Babchuk

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 12:53 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

The Carolina Hurricanes signed defenseman Anton Babchuk on a one-year deal. The contract will pay Babchuk $1.4 million in 2010-11.
"We're happy to be bringing Anton back to the Hurricanes." Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said. "His has a big shot and he really came into his own offensively for us during the 2008-09 season. He will be an important contributor to our success next season."
Babchuk, 26, spent the 2009-10 season in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), skating in 49 games with Avangard Omsk. The Kiev, Ukraine, native led all Omsk defensemen in goals (9), points (22), power-play goals (4), game-winning goals (2) and plus/minus (+17). Babchuk (6-foot-5, 212 lbs.) also played in the 2010 KHL All-Star Game in Minsk, scoring a goal for Team Yashin, and skated in two playoff games for Omsk without registering a point.

Rangers sign Biron

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 12:35 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

One of the several intriguing unrestricted free agent goalies came off the market just after the signing period began Thursday when Martin Biron signed a two-year contract to be Henrik Lundqvist’s backup with the New York Rangers.

Biron, who reportedly will earn $1.8 million over the two years, doesn’t necessarily have to change addresses since he spent last season with the New York Islanders. He had a tough year, going only 9-14-4 with a 3.27 goals-against average and .896 save percentage for the struggling Islanders.

The Rangers identified a backup goalie as one of their major needs in order to take some of the workload off of Lundqvist’s shoulders. Biron, formerly a No. 1 with Philadelphia, will be asked to do that after Steve Valiquette and Alex Auld struggled in that role last season. Lundqvist has played in at least 70 games in each of the past four seasons.

Biron, who debuted with Buffalo during the 1995-96 season, has appeared in 462 NHL games and is 208-176-25 with 26 shutouts, a 2.63 GAA and .910 save percentage. He served as the Flyers No. 1 goalie from 2007-09, taking them to the Eastern Conference Final in 2008.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Bruins re-sign Paille for 2 years

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 12:32 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010

John McGourty - Staff Writer

The Boston Bruins wasted little time keeping early-season acquisition Daniel Paille, signing the speedy left wing to a two-year contract on Thursday.

The five-year NHL veteran was acquired last Oct. 20 from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a third-round draft pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

In 74 games for the Bruins, Paille had 10 goals and 9 assists for 19 points and was minus-4 with 12 penalty minutes. He had one shorthanded goal. Paille had 1 assist in two games for the Sabres before the trade. Paille dished out 79 hits last season, blocked 23 shots and had 25 takeaways. In 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games, Paille had 25 hits, blocked 8 shots and had 6 takeaways.

Rangers sign Christensen

Thursday, 07.01.2010 / 12:25 PM / NHL Free Agency 2010
The New York Rangers have re-signed center Erik Christensen.

Christensen, 26, skated in 49 games with the Rangers this season, scoring 8 goals and 18 assists, along with 24 penalty minutes and a plus-14 rating.  He ranked second on the team in plus/minus rating, and tied for third on the team with 26 points (eight goals and 18 assists) in the final 43 games of the season.  Christensen, who was named co-receipient of the John Halligan Good Guy Award for cooperation with the media, recorded a career-high, eight multi-point efforts, including a three-point performance on February 14 vs. Tampa Bay (two goals and one assist) to tie his career-high for most goals and points in a game.  He tallied his first point as a Ranger (goal) and the 100th point of his career (assist) on December 31 at Carolina.  Christensen made his Rangers debut on December 5 at Buffalo after being claimed off waivers from Anaheim on December 2.  The Rangers posted a record of 5-1-0 when he tallied a goal, and were 12-3-2 when he recorded a point.  Christensen also appeared in nine games with Anaheim prior to joining the Rangers.  He established a career-high with a plus-11 rating overall on the season.
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