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Canucks bring Salo, Higgins back into fold

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The Vancouver Canucks locked up a pair of their unrestricted free agents before noon Friday, signing defenseman Sami Salo to a one-year, $2 million contract and forward Chistopher Higgins to a two-year, according to reports.

Later in the day, they added forward Marco Sturm, reportedly signing him to a one-year, $2.5 million deal.

After parting ways with Christian Ehrhoff, the Canucks turned their attention to Salo, who will be 37 in September. He missed most of last season after tearing an Achilles' tendon during off-season workouts. He played in 27 regular-season games and had 3 goals and 4 assists. In 21 playoff games, Salo had 3 goals and 2 assists.

"Going into last season I had no real idea if I was even going to be able to play, but since I started playing I felt really good and I knew that I was going to continue my career," Salo said Friday. "With the way the playoffs went I knew that I was going to keep playing either in the NHL or in Europe, there was no question about that. It’s a really good that we were able to come to terms in the city that I’ve played for so many years."

Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis entered the offseason with three UFA defensemen -- Kevin Bieksa, Ehrhoff and Salo. Bieksa signed a five-year deal Tuesday, but Ehrhoff had his rights traded to the Islanders later that same day. Ehrhoff eventually agreed to a 10-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres after the Islanders couldn't convince him to sign with them.

That made it possible for Salo to return for what he hopes won't be his last NHL season.

"I don’t think that is going to be my last year, but you can never say never," Salo said.

Salo has spent 8 of his 12 NHL seasons with the Canucks. In 692 career games, Salo has 84 goals and 196 assists. He spent his first four seasons in the League with the Ottawa Senators before he was dealt to Vancouver.

Higgins was a mid-season acquisition by the Canucks, who acquired him from the Florida Panthers on trade deadline day. The 28-year-old was a staple of the team's second line along with Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond during the playoffs. Higgins had 4 goals and 4 assists in 25 postseason games after posting 13 goals and 15 assists in 62 games with the Panthers and Canucks.

Sturm has been battling knee problems in recent years. He was only able to play in 35 regular-season games with the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals last season after he was dealt to the Kings from the Boston Bruins in December. When healthy, the 32-year-old Sturm has posted seven seasons of at least 20 goals.
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