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Canucks sign sought after D Hamhuis to 6-year deal @NHLdotcom

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Highly sought after free agent defenseman Dan Hamhuis finally found a home - close to home - with the Vancouver Canucks.

Twice traded since the end of the season to teams hoping to sign the talented defenseman, Hamhuis reached a six-year, $27 million deal with the Canucks on Thursday, the first day free agents could negotiate with any club.

The 27-year-old Hamhuis has spent his entire NHL career in Nashville, posting 32 goals and 161 in 483 games. He had five goals and 24 points last season with the Predators, who traded his negotiating rights to Philadelphia for defenseman Ryan Parent on June 19.

The Flyers then traded him last week to Pittsburgh for a third-round draft pick in 2011, but Hamhuis tested the open market.

Hamhuis chose the Canucks in part because it gives him a chance to play close to home. He grew up in Smithers, a small town located 700 miles north of Vancouver, and played his junior hockey in Prince George, another town in the northern interior of British Columbia.

A solid two-way defender, Hamhuis has also been durable. He has played at least 78 games each season with the Predators, making him a welcome addition to the Canucks, whose defense has been decimated by injury the last two seasons.

The move also gives the Canucks a surplus of quality, well-paid defensemen.

Vancouver acquired top-four defenseman Keith Ballard as part of a five-player trade with Florida at the draft last week, and now has eight NHL-caliber defensemen under contract, plus restricted free agent Shane O'Brien.

Ballard, Hamhuis, Sami Salo, Alexander Edler, Christian Ehrhoff and Kevin Bieksa will all make more than $3 million next season.

Ballard is under contract for the next five seasons at $4.2 million a year, and Edler for the next three at $3.25 million per season. But Salo ($3.5 million), Ehrhoff ($3.1 million) and Bieksa ($3.75 million) are going into the final year of their contracts and are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Earlier Thursday, the Canucks signed centers Manny Malhotra and Joel Perreault. Malhotra agreed to a three-year, $7.5-million contract that includes a no-trade clause. Last summer, he signed a one-year, $700,000 deal in San Jose.

Malhotra had 14 goals and 33 points while playing a shutdown role and killing penalties with the Sharks. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound center has scored 90 goals and 230 points in 705 NHL games with the New York Rangers, Dallas, Columbus and San Jose.

"When you look at the roster, there's an opportunity to win right now," Malhotra said during a conference call. "As a player, you want to be in a situation where you know the team is a good team, it's a competitive team and a team that can go far into the playoffs."

The Canucks finished first in the Northwest Division with 103 points last season before losing to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago in the second round of the playoffs.

"We talked to a few teams," Malhotra said. "This was the best blend of every aspect, and we had the opportunity to jump on it right away so we took it."

Perreault will likely compete for a job on Vancouver's fourth line after splitting the last four seasons between Phoenix and its San Antonio AHL affiliate.

The Canucks then signed left winger Jeff Tambellini - the son of former Canucks executive Steve Tambellini, who is now the Edmonton Oilers' general manager - to a one-year deal.

Tambellini, who had seven goals and 14 points in 36 games last season with the New York Islanders, has 18 goals and 46 points in 180 career NHL games.

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