The Islanders made the biggest splash on Day 5 of NHL free agency Wednesday, signing unrestricted free agent Bill Guerin to a US$9-million, two-year contract and inking forward Mike Comrie to a one-year deal. Guerin, 36, scored 36 goals with 20 assists last season for St. Louis and San Jose.
“My family and I are so happy to be coming to Long Island,” Guerin said in a statement. “(Isles GM) Garth Snow first contacted me on Sunday and was so positive, so persistent right from the outset explaining to me why I would be ideal for his team.”
Guerin’s arrival softens the blow of losing fellow free-agent winger Jason Blake, who led the Isles with 40 goals last season. Blake signed a five-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this week.
Terms of Comrie’s deal weren’t released. The five-foot-10 veteran had 20 goals and 25 assists in 65 games with Ottawa, then added two goals and six points during the Senators’ run to the Stanley Cup final.
The majority of Wednesday’s news was dominated by clubs re-signing their own restricted free agents, led by centre Tomas Plekanec in Montreal, forward Marek Svatos in Colorado and Petr Prucha in New York with the Rangers.
A total of 28 players also opted for salary arbitration, including Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery and Canadiens forward Michael Ryder.
Plekanec signed a two-year deal that will pay him $1.4 million next season and $1.8 million in 2008-09.
“Tomas Plekanec proved to be one of our most consistent players last season,” Habs GM Bob Gainey said in a statement. “He established career highs in all categories and his defensive play was extremely efficient. He is young, dynamic and we strongly believe he is ready to take on more responsibilities with our club.”
Plekanec, 24, ranked fourth on the team with 47 points (20-27) in 81 games in his second NHL season. He also led the team with a plus-10 rating.
The Avalanche re-signed Svatos to a $1.2-million, one-year deal. He made $1.05 million last season.
“We are looking for Marek to regain his rookie season scoring touch and heroics,” Avalanche GM Francois Giguere said in a statement. “He has tremendous skills and is part of a group of young players ready to make a significant impact on the success of our team.”
Svatos, 25, appeared in a career-high 66 games last season, his third with the Avalanche, recording 30 points (15-15). In his rookie season in 2005-06, he finished tied with Joe Sakic for the team lead in goals (32) and was third among NHL rookies behind only Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
The Rangers re-signed Prucha, 24, to a $3.2-million, two-year deal. He had 40 points (22-18) in 79 games last season.
Elsewhere on Thursday:
-The Minnesota Wild avoided arbitration with forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, signing him to a one-year deal worth $2.6 million. The 23-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., had 20 goals and 37 assists in 82 games last season.
-The Anaheim Ducks signed defenceman Shane Hnidy to a two-year contract. The native of Neepawa, Man., had five goals and seven assists in 72 games with the Atlanta Thrashers.
-The Detroit Red Wings re-signed G Dominik Hasek to one-year contract worth more than $2 million in base salary and a chance to earn an additional $2 million in bonuses. The Wings also re-signed restricted free-agent forward Jiri Hudler, 23, to a $2.03-million, two-year contract. Hudler led all Detroit rookies in goals (15), assists (10) and points (25) in 76 games last season.
-The New Jersey Devils signed unrestricted free-agent goaltender Kevin Weekes to a $1.375-million, two-year contract to back up superstar starter Martin Brodeur. Weekes, 32, was 4-6-2 with a 3.39 goals-against average in 14 games for the New York Rangers last season.
-The Calgary Flames signed unrestricted free-agent defenceman Anders Eriksson, 32, to a two-year contract. He had 23 assists and a plus-12 rating in 79 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season.
-The Buffalo Sabres re-signed forward Andrew Peters to a two-year contract and forward Michael Ryan to a one-year contract while inking free-agent netminder Jocelyn Thibault to a one-year deal.
-The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed restricted free-agent forwards Max Talbot and Erik Christensen to two-year contracts. Talbot will earn $1.35 million over the two years. Talbot, 23, had 24 points (13-11) and 53 penalty minutes in 75 games last season. Christensen, 23, tallied 33 points (18-15) in 61 games.
-The Canadiens also signed free-agent defencemen Mathieu Biron and Jamie Rivers to one-year contracts as well as forward Cory Urquhart, 22, and defenceman Marvin Degon, 24.
-The Columbus Blue Jackets signed unrestricted free-agent defenceman Jan Hejda, 29, to a one-year deal. He had one goal and eight assists in 39 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season.
-The Nashville Predators signed forward Shane Willis, goaltender Dan Ellis and defenceman Nolan Yonkman.
-The New York Islanders signed forward Tim Jackman, who spent last season in the Los Angeles Kings organization.