VANCOUVER (CP) - The Vancouver Canucks put a dent in their chequebook Tuesday, signing seven players including goalie Curtis Sanford, centre Byron Ritchie and winger Brad Isbister.
Sanford, 27, signed a US$600,000, one-year contract. He was 8-12-5 with a 3.18 goals-against average and .888 save percentage last season with the St. Louis Blues. The Canucks needed a new backup for superstar Roberto Luongo after Danny Sabourin signed with Pittsburgh on Monday.
"Curtis was the goaltender that we had targeted," said Canucks assistant GM Steve Tambellini. "We knew he had other options and we weren't 100 per cent sure that he would say yes. ... We're extremely excited that he did."
One of those options, revealed Sanford, was Edmonton but the Oilers chose Mathieu Garon instead on Tuesday.
"And there was some interest from other teams but we had a couple of two-way offers and looking at that, I'm not getting any younger and I'm not too keen on riding buses (in the AHL)," Sanford said. "I'm not going to lie, that was part of it."
The other part was getting to play with a goalie in Luongo that Sanford called " one of the best in the game."
"I still aspire to play a lot of games in the NHL but at this point in my career I thought it would be good idea to work under Roberto Luongo," said Sanford. "I still have a lot to learn in the NHL."
Ritchie, who had 14 points (8-6) in 64 games for the Calgary Flames last season, will make $675,000 on a one-year deal, while Isbister, who recorded five points (1-4) in 19 games with the New York Rangers, will earn $525,000 also on a one-year contract.
The Canucks also signed goaltender Cory Schneider, the 26th overall pick in the 2004 draft, centres Brad Moran and Greg Classen and winger Jason Jaffray.
Ritchie and Isbister, both 30, bring grit and depth to the Canucks' forward corps but not the proven scoring touch their roster desperately needs. Some of the bigger name forwards still available might be too pricey for them.
Ritchie, from Burnaby, B.C., has appeared in 253 career NHL games and recorded 47 points (22-25) with 293 penalty minutes.
Isbister has some more offensive potential with 211 points (100-111) and 577 penalty minutes in 486 NHL games. The Edmonton native has also played for Canada at 2000 and 2001 world championships and won gold with the 1997 world junior team.
Schneider, 21, played the last three seasons with Boston College and last year led the NCAA in wins, saves and minutes played.
Moran, 28, played three games with the Canucks last season, recording one assist, but spent most of the season with their AHL affiliate Manitoba Moose, where he played in 69 games and picked up 72 points (25-47).
Jaffray, 26, appeared in 77 games for the Moose, registering a team-high 81 points (35-46).
Classen, 30, spent last season with the Hamburg Freezers of the German Hockey League, scoring 35 points (9-26) in 50 games. He's appeared in 90 career NHL games, all with the Nashville Predators, recording 17 points (7-10).