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Plenty of forwards find new addresses

by Brian Compton /
As far as forwards are concerned, the news of the day on Wednesday was Marian Hossa's mammoth 12-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks and Marian Gaborik's five-year deal with the New York Rangers.

But several other quality players either changed or maintained their addresses for the 2009-10 season and beyond. takes a closer look at who went where on the first day of free agency:

Booth, Dvorak stay -- The Florida Panthers showed some loyalty to a pair of goal-scoring forwards, as they signed left wing David Booth to a six-year extension worth $25.5 million and re-upped with Czech right wing Radek Dvorak on a two-year deal worth $3.4 million.

Booth scored a team-high 31 goals for Florida last season, 11 of which came on the power play.

"We are excited to have reached a contract agreement with David Booth," said Randy Sexton, the club's interim general manager. "David is coming off a career best season and he is undoubtedly an important part of our club’s future. Since we drafted David in 2004, he has dedicated himself to improving his skill set each season. Through his hard work, commitment and passion for the game, he has become a role model for other players, as well as a fan favorite. He embodies every attribute of what a true Panthers player stands for and we look forward to his continued contributions within our organization for many years to come."

Dvorak, 32, had 15 goals (4 shorthanded) and 21 assists in 81 games for the Panthers in 2008-09. He signed as a free agent with Florida in 2007 after spending the 2006-07 season with the St. Louis Blues.

In 976 career games, Dvorak has 194 goals and 308 assists. He was originally drafted by the Panthers in the first round (No. 10) of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.

Orr to Leafs -- Gritty winger Colton Orr didn't have to wait long to find a new home. After spending the previous three seasons with the New York Rangers, the 27-year-old signed a four-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $4 million.

Orr, a Winnipeg native, has 11 points and 549 penalty minutes in 245 NHL games with New York and the Boston Bruins.

GOALS: 1 | ASSISTS: 3 | PTS: 4
SOG: 43 | PIM: 121 | +/-: -6

Brashear to Broadway -- The Rangers didn't wait long to replace Orr, as they lured heavyweight Donald Brashear away from the Washington Capitals. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Brashear, 37, had 1 goal, 3 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 63 games for the Caps. He has appeared in 989 regular-season games in his career.

Ducks sign Christensen -- Early Wednesday morning, the Anaheim Ducks announced the re-signing of center Erik Christensen on a one-year contract.

Christensen, 25, combined for 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists) between Anaheim and the Atlanta Thrashers. Christensen was acquired from the Thrashers in exchange for center Eric O’Dell on March 4.

Sullivan, Ward stay in Nashville -- The Nashville Predators handed out new deals to forwards Steve Sullivan and Joel Ward.

Sullivan was dynamite for the Predators down the stretch of the regular season and finished with 31 points in just 42 games after returning from a back injury that sidelined him for most of two seasons. He won the Masterton Trophy at the NHL Awards ceremony last month. Sullivan, who hasn't lasted a full season since 2002-03 with Chicago, signed a two-year contract that will pay him $3.75 million per season.

After spending the entire 2007-08 campaign in the American Hockey League, Ward, 28, stepped up and had 17 goals and 18 assists in 79 games for the Preds last season. Ward's two-year deal is worth $3 million.

Cole stays put -- After helping the Carolina Hurricanes reach the Eastern Conference Finals, veteran forward Erik Cole signed a two-year deal to remain the club. Cole will make $2.8 million next season and $3 million in 2010-11.

The 30-year-old, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in the second half of the season, had 15 points in 17 games down the stretch for Carolina. He had five assists in 18 postseason contests.

"Erik clearly had an instant impact on our team when he returned to Carolina in March," Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said. "He has been an important piece for our franchise for a long time and we are pleased that he has decided to remain at home in Raleigh."

Laperriere to Philly -- Looking to add even more toughness, the Philadelphia Flyers signed Ian Laperriere to a three-year deal worth $3.5 million.

The gritty veteran spent the past four seasons with the Colorado Avalanche and went 7-12-19 with 163 penalty minutes in 2008-09.


GOALS: 6 | ASSISTS: 13 | PTS: 19
SOG: 110 | PIM: 46 | +/-: -7

Kopecky, Madden join Hossa -- Tomas Kopecky will remain Marian Hossa's teammate.

The duo joined the Chicago Blackhawks, as Kopecky signed a deal that will pay him $1.2 million in each of the next two seasons. He had 6 goals and 13 assists in 79 games for the Detroit Red Wings in 2008-09.

"To add Marian, an elite and world-class player, and Tomas, a Stanley Cup Champion, to our exciting young core reinforces our commitment to try to win the Stanley Cup," Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon said.

Madden, a two-time Cup winner with New Jersey, signed a one-year deal. The 36-year-old, long regarded as one of the NHL's best checking centers, had spent his entire career with the Devils, but slumped to 7 goals and 23 points in 2008-09.

Koci's headed for Colorado -- The 6-foot-6 bruiser signed a one-year deal with the Avs after splitting the 2008-09 campaign between Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

"David is a fierce competitor who will add grit and toughness to our lineup," Colorado GM Greg Sherman said of Koci, who had 141 penalty minutes.

Rupp to Pittsburgh -- The Stanley Cup champs added some size and toughness with the signing of Mike Rupp, who helped the Devils win a Stanley Cup in 2003. Rupp, 29, signed a two-year deal with the Pens.

"We are excited to have Mike as a part of our hockey club for the next two seasons," Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero said of Rupp, who had nine points and 136 penalty minutes in 72 games for the Devils last season.  "He brings a physical presence along with leadership and experience as a Stanley Cup champion."

Pahlsson's a Blue Jacket -- The veteran forward, who was dealt from Anaheim to Chicago at the trade deadline, signed a three-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets that will pay him more than $2.5 million annually.

Pahlsson, 31, had 5 goals and 10 assists in 52 games for the Ducks before being traded to the Blackhawks. He went 2-1-3 in 13 contests down the stretch and added a pair of goals and 3 assists in 17 playoff games.

Begin heads to Beantown, Bitz stays put
-- After appearing in 62 games between the Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars, Steve Begin has agreed on a one-year deal with the Boston Bruins. The club also re-signed Byron Bitz, but terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Begin, 31, had seven goals and five assists in 2008-09. His best season came in 2005-06, when he went 11-12-23 with 113 penalty minutes for the Canadiens.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Bitz split last season between Boston and AHL Providence. He had seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in 35 games for the Bruins and went 3-7-10 with 68 penalty minutes in 37 minor-league contests.

Fiddler joins Phoenix -- Vernon Fiddler, 29, signed a two-year deal with the Coyotes after spending three 11-goal seasons in Nashville.

The 6-foot-2 center has 45 goals in 305 NHL games.

Sjostrom's a Flame -- Calgary signed forward Fredrik Sjostrom, who became one of the NHL's best penalty-killers with the New York Rangers this season, to a two-year deal.

The former first-round pick by the Phoenix Coyotes had 7 goals and 13 points in 79 games for the Rangers.

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