EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -Sheldon Souray gave the Edmonton Oilers the impact player general manager Kevin Lowe was looking for when the All-Star defenseman agreed to a five-year deal on Thursday.
Spurned in attempts to finalize a deal with forward Michael Nylander, and rebuffed when the Buffalo Sabres matched a lucrative offer sheet to young forward Thomas Vanek, the Oilers locked up Souray, who posted career highs of 26 goals and 64 points last season with Montreal.
His previous single-season bests were 15 goals and 39 points.
Souray, an Alberta native, spent the past six seasons with the Canadiens. He led Montreal with 19 power-play goals and 135 penalty minutes. He was second on the team last season in goals and points, but first among NHL defensemen in goals and game-winners (6).
"With the addition of Sheldon, we solidify our defense in a big way and also answer some of the issues regarding scoring and toughness," Lowe said in a statement. "Sheldon's game has consistently improved and we're going to rely on him in many different situations."
Financial terms weren't immediately released.
Souray, the top defenseman left on the unrestricted free-agent market, was selected by New Jersey in the third round of the 1994 draft. He has 66 goals and 120 assists in 506 career NHL games. In 34 playoff games, Souray has three goals and seven assists.
He will turn 31 on Friday.
"I'm heading home to Alberta and I can't wait to step onto the ice at Rexall Place," Souray said in a statement. "It's always been a terrific building to play in. I couldn't be happier with my decision and I can tell you it was an easy one to make. I'm looking forward to playing in Edmonton for a great organization and believe me, I know how good the fans in Edmonton are."