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Bertuzzi to Anaheim, Caps get Nylander while Habs reel Hamrlik, Smolinski

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Day 2 of NHL free agency didn't disappoint after a whirlwind opening Sunday. The 32-year-old Bertuzzi, an unrestricted free agent, agreed to an US$8-million, two-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, reuniting him with GM Brian Burke, who first acquired him in Vancouver in a 1998 trade.

"He runs an organization second-to-none, always classy and always done right," Bertuzzi said of Burke. "Brian always instilled confidence in me when I was in Vancouver. When I was going through a couple of bad games he'd come down, give me a pep talk and get me going again."

Speaking of reunions, 35-year-old winger Owen Nolan is back with Darryl Sutter, signing a $1.75-million, one-year contract with the Calgary Flames, a deal that also includes $250,000 in performance bonuses. Sutter, the Flames GM, was Nolan's coach in San Jose when he was at the peak of his career.

The Habs not only reeled in defenceman Roman Hamrlik with a $22-million, four-year contract, but also signed veteran centre Bryan Smolinski to a $2-million, one-year deal.

The Caps continued their good work, signing the talented and underrated Michael Nylander to a $19.5-million, four-year contract, giving star winger Alexander Ovechkin the playmaking centre he hasn't had in his two NHL seasons.

The Kings were busy, signing a solid free-agent foursome: centre Michal Handzus to a $16-million, four-year deal; winger Ladislav Nagy to a $3.75-million, one-year deal; defenceman Tom Preissing to an $11-million, four-year contract; and winger Kyle Calder to a $5.5-million, two-year deal.

Chicago also landed centre Robert Lang with an $8-million, two-year deal and Pittsburgh signed winger Petr Sykora and defencemen Darryl Sydor - both to $5-million, two-year contracts.

In other moves Monday:

-The Atlanta Thrashers signed unrestricted free-agent defenceman Ken Klee, 35, to a $2.5-million, two-year contract.

-The Vancouver Canucks re-signed defenceman Lukas Krajicek, 24, to a $2.2-million, two-year deal.

-The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signed winger Bates Battaglia, 31, to a $1.3-million, two-year contract.

-The Nashville Predators signed unrestricted free-agent forward Jed Ortmeyer, 28, to a $1.5-million, two-year contract.

-The New York Rangers re-signed defenceman Jason Strudwick, 31, to a $500,000, one-year deal.

-The Minnesota Wild signed centre Steve Kelly.

Bertuzzi joined the Ducks a day after Detroit Red Wings teammate Mathieu Schneider also signed with the Cup champs. Bertuzzi had seven points (3-4) in 16 playoff games with the Wings last season after playing in only 15 regular-season games with Florida and Detroit, totalling 11 points (3-8). The move by Burke to bring in Bertuzzi likely signifies that winger Teemu Selanne will retire.

Calgary hopes Nolan still has more hockey left in him. He had 40 points (16-24) in 76 games with the Phoenix Coyotes last season, a comeback year after not playing since 2003-04.

The Caps, meanwhile, continue to get better. A day after signing defenceman Tom Poti and centre Viktor Kozlov, GM George McPhee got Nylander to sign.

"We think we've done some things in the past couple of days that make us far more competitive and address some real needs and hopefully have us knock on the playoff door," McPhee said Monday night.

While the rest of the hockey world fought over Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Daniel Briere on Sunday, Washington wanted Nylander from the get-go.

"In our minds there were four real good centres out there and we had a chance to get this one. And we got him," McPhee said.

Nylander, 34, set career highs in goals (26), assists (57) and points (83) with the New York Rangers last season. The Edmonton Oilers, among other teams, were believed to also be in on the bidding for the unrestricted free agent, but he chose Washington.

The Canadiens lost out Sunday after making serious bids on both Briere and Ryan Smyth but GM Bob Gainey did bring in Hamrlik and Smolinski.

Hamrlik, 33, had 38 points (7-31) and a plus-22 rating in 75 regular-season games with the Calgary Flames last season. The six-foot-two, 210-pounder is a three-time NHL all-star who has 505 career points (131-374) in 999 games.

"My priority was to play in Canada," Hamrlik said on a conference call. "Unfortunately I didn't re-sign with the Calgary Flames. But I talked to my agent and said I'd love to play in Canada. It's like playing soccer in England or something like that.

"And especially for the Montreal Canadiens, such a big team."

Smolinski, 35, had 18 goals and 26 assists for Chicago and Vancouver last season.

The Ottawa Senators, meanwhile, lost Preissing to the Kings, who will pay him $2.75 million a year. The 28-year-old unrestricted free agent had 38 points (7-31) in 80 regular-season games with the Senators last season while posting a staggering plus-40 rating. He added seven points (2-5) in 20 playoff games.

Nagy, 28, had 55 points (12-43) in 80 games with Phoenix and Dallas last season, numbers that were down from the point-a-game pace he had the previous two seasons.

Calder, 28, had 35 points (14-21) in 78 games with Philadelphia and Detroit last season.

Handzus, 30, played only eight games last season in Chicago, collecting eight points (3-5) in eight games. He's a solid two-way player who had 44 points (11-33) in 73 games with Philadelphia in 2005-06.

With Handzus gone, the Hawks replaced him with Lang. The 36-year-old had 52 points (19-33) in 81 games with the Red Wings last season.

"He wants to play with (Martin) Havlat and he'll get the chance," Hawks GM Dale Tallon told The Canadian Press. "He wanted to be here. This was a good signing right off the bat."

The Penguins were busy, reigning in a pair of veterans in Sykora and Sydor and also brought back backup goaltender Dany Sabourin after he spent part of last season with Vancouver, and re-signed defenceman Rob Scuderi.

Sykora, 30, had 53 points (22-31) in 82 games with Edmonton last season while Sydor, 35, had 21 points (5-16) and a minus-4 rating in 74 games with Dallas, where he has spent most of his career.


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