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St. Louis Blues match Canucks offer sheet to forward David Backes

VANCOUVER - The St. Louis Blues retained forward David Backes on Tuesday by quickly matching the US$7.5-million, three-year offer sheet the young forward signed with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks tried to pluck the 24-year-old winger away from the Blues just hours after he became a restricted free agent. The Blues had seven days to match the offer or let him go for a compensatory second-round pick, but wasted little time in deciding to keep Backes.

"(Chairman and Principle Owner) Dave Checketts was very supportive of this decision to sign David," Blues president John Davidson said in a statement. "David is a major part of our youth movement in St. Louis and we expect him to play a huge role as we move forward."

Backes spent parts of the past two seasons with the Blues, who selected him in the second round of the 2003 draft. He set career highs with 13 goals and 31 points in 72 games last season, while also leading the team with 240 hits. His new contract includes a $1-million signing bonus along with $1.5 million in salary this coming season. He'll earn $2.5 million each of the following two years.

Offer sheets took centre stage last summer after Edmonton lured Dustin Penner away from Anaheim and touched off an exchange of heated words between Ducks general manager Brian Burke and Oilers counterpart Kevin Lowe.

Edmonton also signed Thomas Vanek to an offer sheet last year that Buffalo matched.

The Canucks agreed to terms Tuesday with forward Darcy Hordichuk on a two-year contract. The physical 27-year-old winger had one goal, three points and 60 penalty minutes in 45 games with the Nashville Predators last season.

Hordichuk has 26 points and 747 penalty minutes in 302 career regular season NHL games with Nashville, Florida, Phoenix and Atlanta.


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