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Dainius Zubrus lands in New Jersey while Oilers sign backup goalie

Also gone is defenceman Brad Stuart. The unrestricted free-agent signed a $3.5-million, one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings.

The 29-year-old unrestricted free agent, who can play both centre and wing, will earn $3.4 million a season. And he goes to a team that deeply needed some good news after losing No. 1 centre Scott Gomez and top defenceman Brian Rafalski to free agency on Sunday.

Zubrus had 60 points (24-38) in 79 games with Washington and Buffalo last season, adding eight assists in 15 playoff games.

The Devils also added some depth to their blue-line by signing unrestricted free agent Karel Rachunek to a $1.4-million, one-year contract.

Stuart, 27, had 22 points (7-15) in 75 games with Boston and Calgary last season. The Flames had hoped to re-sign him but Stuart and his family wanted to re-locate to California, where he began his NHL career with San Jose.

Day 3 of NHL free agency was a little quieter after an opening 48 hours that had it all.

In Edmonton, the Oilers found a new backup for veteran netminder Dwayne Roloson, signing unrestricted free-agent goaltender Mathieu Garon to a two-year contract. The 29-year-old went 13-10-6 with the Los Angeles Kings last season with a 2.66 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.

The Oilers were looking for a new backup after parting ways with Jussi Markkanen.

The Vancouver Canucks were busy, goalie Curtis Sanford, centre Byron Ritchie and winger Brad Isbister among their seven player signings.

Sanford, 27, signed a $600,000, one-year contract. He was 8-12-5 with a 3.18 goals-against average and .888 save percentage last season with the St. Louis Blues. The Canucks needed a new backup for superstar Roberto Luongo after Danny Sabourin signed with Pittsburgh on Monday.

"I still aspire to play a lot of games in the NHL but at this point in my career I thought it would be good idea to work under Roberto Luongo," said Sanford. "I still have a lot to learn in the NHL."

Ritchie, who had 14 points (8-6) in 64 games for the Calgary Flames last season, will make $675,000 on a one-year deal, while Isbister, who recorded five points (1-4) in 19 games with the New York Rangers, will earn $525,000 on a one-year deal.

Goalie Chris Mason signed a $6-million, two-year contract extension in Nashville. Mason would have been an unrestricted free agent after next season. He will earn $3 million a year in the new deal after making $1.25 million next season.

The deal cements his place as the Predators' No. 1 goalie after they dealt Tomas Vokoun to Florida last month.

"Obviously Tomas is an awesome goalie and he's proved himself," Mason told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. "But I don't think they would have made that trade had I not got to play a lot of games last year and done well."

Mason ranked second in the NHL with a .925 save percentage last season while tying for sixth with five shutouts and ranking 10th with a 2.35 goals-against average.

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed unrestricted free-agent defenceman Brad Lukowich to a three-year contract, yet another Devil to leave New Jersey. Lukowich, 30, played for the Lightning during the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons, winning a Cup in '04.

"Brad Lukowich is a warrior," said Tampa GM Jay Feaster. "He plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and he does whatever it takes to win. He knows our system, he knows our core personnel, he knows how we do things in Tampa and what we expect from our players, and he is a winner.

"He is also a very good teammate and a popular player in the locker-room."

In other moves Tuesday:

-The Canucks also signed goaltender Cory Schneider, the 26th overall pick in the 2004 draft, centres Brad Moran and Greg Classen and winger Jason Jaffray.

-The Anaheim Ducks re-signed rugged winger Brad May, 35, to a US$1.2-million, two-year contract.

-The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Jiri Novotny, 23, to a two-year contract.

-The Ottawa Senators signed 2005 first-round pick Brian Lee, 21, to an entry-level contact, while agreeing to two-year deals with forwards Danny Bois, 24, and Jim McKenzie, 23, and a one-year deal with defenceman Matt Carkner, 26.

-The Predators also signed defenceman Ville Koistinen, 25, to a $475,000, one-year contract and forward Ryan Maki, 22, to a two-year contract paying him $475,000 in the NHL and $40,000 in the AHL.

-Minnesota signed goaltender Nolan Schaefer to a multi-year contract. The 27-year-old spent last season in the AHL. The Wild also re-signed centre Wes Walz to a one-year contract.

-Los Angeles re-signed goalie Jason Labarbera, 27, to a $800,850, two-year deal.

-The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed forward Ryan Bayda, 26, to a $475,000, one-year deal that also pays him $100,000 in the AHL. The Hurricanes also signed tough guy Wade Brookbank to a $500,000, one-year deal, defencemen Tim Conboy, 25, to a two-way deal for one year paying him $495,000 at the NHL level or $95,000 at the AHL level, and defenceman J.D. Forrest to a two-way deal paying $475,000 in the NHL or $50,000 in the AHL.

Meanwhile, veteran winger Brendan Shanahan, an unrestricted free agent, has yet to re-sign with the New York Rangers but his agent said Tuesday people should not read anything into that.

"Our expectation is that we'll be able to move forward shortly," Rick Curran told CP.


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