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Erik Gudbranson signs one-year, $3.5 million contract with Canucks

Defenseman would have become restricted free agent July 1 @NHLdotcom

Defenseman Erik Gudbranson has signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks, general manager Jim Benning announced Thursday.

Gudbranson, 25, would have become a restricted free agent on July 1. He will be an unrestricted free agent after next season.

Gudbranson likely will be among the players the Canucks protect from the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft.

"Erik is a big, strong physical defender who I know feels has a lot to prove and has worked diligently in his injury rehab," Benning said in a statement. "He has leadership qualities that will be important for our young team and we are excited to see him healthy and back on the blue line next season."

Gudbranson (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) missed 52 games this season after having wrist surgery in December. He finished with six points (one goal, five assists) in 30 games.

The Canucks acquired Gudbranson in a trade with the Florida Panthers for forward Jared McCann on May 25, 2016. The Panthers selected Gudbranson with the No. 3 pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. He has 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) in 339 regular-season games with the Canucks and Panthers.

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