The Columbus Blue Jackets made a major move on Friday to shore up their lagging offence by signing free-agent right wing Nathan Horton away from the Boston Bruins.
The 28-year-old playoff-hardened forward, who visited Columbus earlier this week, signed a seven-year deal worth $37.1 million US — with $29 million US of that coming in the first five years.
"This is a team on the rise with great players and I'm looking forward to being a part of it," Horton said of the Blue Jackets. "We felt at home as soon as we visited here and it was pretty clear to us that this is where we wanted to live. This is a great fit for me and my family."
He was to be formally introduced at a Friday afternoon news conference.
Horton, who still needs off-season shoulder surgery which will delay the start of his season, provides the Blue Jackets with punch it lacked a year ago when it just missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker.
Columbus finished finishing 25th in the NHL in goals. Horton has averaged 23 goals over the last eight seasons.
"Nathan Horton was the player we identified as a perfect fit," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "He is an elite power forward who brings size, skill and a great desire to compete to our lineup. He is also a person of great character and someone who will fit in very well with our team."
The Blue Jackets' are built around Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who recently signed a two-year contract. The club badly needed a scoring threat to go with Marian Gaborik and several rising young forwards.
The signing was one of the biggest free-agent moves ever by the franchise, which made a surprising leap into playoff contention after dawdling near the NHL cellar for the first third of last year's abbreviated season. The Blue Jackets have made the playoffs just once in their 12 seasons, and were swept by Detroit in that one trip in 2009.
Horton's new contract will result in a $5.3-million cap hit.
A skilled player with an edge, he was a central figure in the Bruins winning the 2011 Stanley Cup and in their trip to the finals this past season.
He injured his shoulder in this year's playoffs and surgery will likely cause him to miss training camp. Horton held off getting the operation until his new team's doctors were involved. He also had a concussion in January 2012 that caused him to miss the remainder of that season. He also missed the last four Stanley Cup finals games in 2011 because of a concussion.
During Boston's run to the title in 2011, he had eight goals and nine assists in 21 games before being injured.
He put up 13 goals and nine assists in 43 regular-season games with the Bruins during the truncated 2013 season.
Horton was a first-round draft pick of the Florida Panthers in 2003, the fourth pick overall, and then was traded just over three years ago to the Bruins. It was not a coincidence that Boston suddenly became a Stanley Cup contender soon after, with Norton a valuable leader of the club.
He has totalled 198 goals and 204 assists with 543 penalty minutes and a cumulative plus/minus rating of +57 in his 591 career NHL games.
Coyotes pick up Ribeiro
The Phoenix Coyotes added much-needed skill at the start of the free agency period on Friday, signing forward Mike Ribeiro to a four-year, $22 million contract.
"Since I came here six years ago, we've been searching for a playmaking centre iceman, someone who could make his wingers better," Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. "Certainly, Mike's skill set, his ability to pass the puck, vision on the ice was an area we had ideally been looking for, so to be able to bring him to the desert is a really good day for us."
Phoenix also signed free agent goalie Thomas Greiss to serve as a backup to Mike Smith and re-signed unrestricted free agent forward Kyle Chipchura to a multi-year deal. Forward Lauri Korpikoski and defenseman Michael Stone, both restricted free agents, signed multi-year deals as well.
The Coyotes had been unable to afford top-line talent the past four years, hamstrung by the financial restraints of being run by the NHL.
The Coyotes also are hoping to re-sign restricted free agent forward Mikkel Boedker.
Clowe agrees to deal with Devils: report
The New Jersey Devils are investing a lot of money in a banged-up player, hoping he's healthy enough to provide a good return when he makes a move across the river.
The Devils opened free agency on Friday by signing forward Ryane Clowe to a five-year, $24.25 million contract. They then followed up by adding two more forwards by signing Michael Ryder to a two-year, $7 million contract and Rostislav Olesz to a one-year, $1 million deal.
People familiar with the deals told The Associated Press the terms of each of the contracts. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Devils did not disclose the details.
Ryder is a 10-year NHL veteran, who will be joining his fourth team in three years. He finished last season with Montreal, after being traded to the Canadiens by Dallas, and finished with 16 goals and 19 assists in 46 games.
The signings came as the Devils restocked after losing forward David Clarkson to free agency. Clarkson signed with Toronto later in the day.
Clowe is staying on the East Coast after being acquired by the New York Rangers in a trade with San Jose in April. He had three goals and five assists over 12 games with New York, and was limited to just two playoff games with New York because a suspected concussion.
Former Rangers coach John Tortorella said Clowe was New York's version of Bruins hard-hitter forward Milan Lucic.
The 30-year-old Clowe has 104 goals and 279 points in his career. Two years ago, he had career highs with 24 goals and 62 points.
The 27-year-old Olesz has 57 goals and 132 points in the NHL, all with the Florida Panthers before playing six games without a point two years ago in Chicago. He had seven goals and 19 points in 14 games last season for the Blackhawks-affiliated Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Florida drafted him No. 7 overall in 2004.
Red Wings sign Weiss, Alfredsson, lose Filppula to Bolts
In addition to signing former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year, $5.5 million deal, the Red Wings also agreed to terms on a five-year deal with forward Stephen Weiss worth a reported $24.5 million. Weiss spent his entire 10-year career with the Florida Panthers, but registered just four points in 17 games last season.
Weiss was brought to Detroit to replace Valtteri Filppula, who agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning for $25-million over five years, according to media reports, and rejoins Steve Yzerman.
"We feel he is an outstanding, all-around centerman, who brings a winning pedigree to our organization," Yzerman said. "He fills a much-needed position for us at centre."
The Lightning weren't done there. They also signed rookie first-round pick Jonathan Drouin to a three-year, entry-level contact. Drouin was the third pick in the draft last weekend. That move came just as the Lightning prepare to open a rookie developmental camp.
Stalberg, 3 others headed to Nashville
The Nashville Predators wasted no time attacking the free-agent market in an attempt to boost their anemic offence.
As the NHL free agency period opened Friday, Nashville added forwards Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom. The Predators also signed goaltender Carter Hutton to a one-year, two-way contract worth $550,000 at the NHL level and $100,000 at the AHL level.
"We knew we needed to change," Predators general manager David Poile said at a Friday news conference. "We knew we needed to improve."
Nashville scored just 2.27 goals per game this past season to match the Florida Panthers for the lowest average in the NHL. Nashville finished last in the Central Division and 14th in the Western Conference with a 16-23-9 record.
Stalberg signed a four-year, $12 million deal, Nystrom earned a four-year, $10 million deal, Hendricks will receive $7.4 million over the next four years, and Cullen signed a two-year contract worth $7 million.
Nystrom, 30, had seven goals and four assists for Dallas this season. He also had 61 penalty minutes in 48 games.
"Obviously playing against [the Predators] for a long time, I know the type of system they play and the type of team that they have, and I think I fit in really well in that system," Nystrom said on a conference call. "I am so excited to get the season going. I cannot wait."
Wild sign Ballard, Cooke
The Minnesota Wild have used their limited space under the salary cap to sign defenceman Keith Ballard and re-sign defenceman Jared Spurgeon.
Later in the day, the Wild announced they signed rugged forward Matt Cooke to a three-year deal. Cooke, 34, tallied eight goals and 21 points along with 36 penalty minutes in 48 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.
The contracts were completed Friday.
Ballard was let go by Vancouver earlier this week. He said he had interest from a half-dozen other teams but picked a two-year deal with the Wild because he believed he best fit with them on the ice. As a bonus, he's a native of Minnesota.
According to a person familiar with Spurgeon's contract, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team did not release the value of the deal, Spurgeon will get just under $8 million over three seasons. His annual average value is $2.66 million.
Penguins bring back Scuderi
The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Rob Scuderi to a four-year, $13.5 million contract.
The 34-year-old defenceman, who helped Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup in 2009, played the last four seasons with Los Angeles. He helped the Kings win the 2012 Cup and missed only nine games over his four years with Los Angeles.
Scuderi has seven goals and 79 assists in 585 career NHL games, including one goal and 11 assists in 48 games last season. He had a career bests in points (16) and plus-minus (+23) with the Penguins in 2008-09. A 1998 fifth-round pick of Pittsburgh's, the Syosset, N.Y., native became a regular with the Penguins in the 2004-05 lockout.
He was a reliable presence on the ice and popular in the dressing room, but with the Penguins up against the salary cap he was let go in free agency in July 2009, signing a four-year, $13.6 million deal with Los Angeles.
Canes get Komisarek, Khudobin
The Carolina Hurricanes opened free agency by giving one-year contracts to veteran defenceman Mike Komisarek and backup goalie Anton Khudobin.
The deals announced Friday will pay Komisarek $700,000 and Khudobin $800,000.
The moves address two of the Hurricanes' top priorities this off-season — bolstering their defence, and finding an affordable backup for All-Star goalie Cam Ward.
Earlier this week, they picked up defenceman Andrej Sekera in a draft-day trade with Buffalo for defenceman Jamie McBain.
General manager Jim Rutherford says he feels "pretty good that the Hurricanes have improved their team" while expressing confidence that first-round draft pick Elias Lindholm, a forward, will make the team during preseason camp.
Emery returns to Philadelphia
Ray Emery is the latest goaltender the Philadelphia Flyers think can be their answer in net.
Emery signed a one-year, $1.65 million US contract with the Flyers as he returns for a second tour of duty there to compete with Steve Mason for the No. 1 job.
Emery went 17-1-0 with the Chicago Blackhawks this past season while sharing starts with Corey Crawford. The 30-year-old wanted a better chance to be the man with a team than he would've gotten next year after Crawford helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup.
A hip injury derailed Emery's 2009-10 season with the Flyers. It could have ended his career but he revitalized it with the Anaheim Ducks and then the Blackhawks.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux said Friday he'd welcome Emery returning.
"I had the chance to play with Emery before," Giroux said. "He's a good teammate and a great goalie."
Ducks re-sign Koivu
Saku Koivu is returning to the Anaheim Ducks after signing a one-year contract.
The Ducks announced they had signed the 38-year-old forward on Friday, after the start of the NHL's free-agency period. Koivu is a 17-year NHL veteran, who returns for a fifth season in Anaheim.
Koivu had 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 47 games last season, while also breaking the 800-point plateau for his career. Overall, he has 244 goals and 559 assists in 1,058 career games.
He spent his first 13 seasons with Montreal, after being selected in the first round (21st overall) in the 1993 draft.
Blues sign Lapierre
The St. Louis Blues have signed centre Maxim Lapierre to a two-year contract.
Lapierre spent the past three seasons in Vancouver, tallying 30 points and 183 penalty minutes in 149 games.
In his career, the Quebec native has 113 points and 476 penalty minutes in 463 NHL games.
St. Louis also signed forwards Mark Mancari and Alexandre Bolduc to one-year, two-way contracts and signed forward Keith Aucoin away from the Islanders on a one-year deal.
Avs sign Benoit
The Colorado Avalanche signed defenceman Andre Benoit to a one-year deal.
Before the start of free agency, newly hired Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said the team wasn't going to be very active since the roster was already full. Colorado recently bought out the contract of defenceman Greg Zanon to open up space.
The 29-year-old Benoit played in 33 games for the Ottawa Senators last season, scoring three goals and dishing out seven assists.
Avalanche executive vice-president of hockey operations Joe Sakic says Benoit has "good offensive skills and puck-moving ability and will be a good addition to our power play."
The team made several more moves later in the day, re-signing forward David Van Der Gulik to a one-year deal. Van Der Gulik spent most of last season with the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.
In addition, the Avs signed defenceman Nick Holden to a two-year deal. Defenceman Nate Guenin, along with forwards Guillaume Desbiens and J.T. Wyman agreed to one-year contracts, while forward Colin Smith signed a three-year entry-level deal.
Ellis gets 2-year deal
Free agent goaltender Dan Ellis has signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with Dallas, where he made his NHL debut nine years ago.
The deal announced Friday was the latest in a busy week for the Stars, who have made two trades to acquire three centres.
The 33-year-old Ellis was 6-8-2 in 19 appearances with Carolina last season. He has a 2.73 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 184 career games.
Ellis, a second-round pick by Dallas in 2000, was on the roster behind Marty Turco when he played his only game for the Stars, a 4-3 win at Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2004. This time he's likely to be behind Kari Lehtonen.
He has also played for Nashville, Tampa Bay and Anaheim.
Nabokov, Hamonic stay with Isles
The New York Islanders re-signed goalie Evgeni Nabokov and defenceman Travis Hamonic, and still had time and money to add two forwards in free agency on Friday.
Nabokov will return after signing a one-year, $3.25 million contract. Hamonic agreed to a seven-year, $27 million deal after the Islanders had previously retained the rights to the restricted free agent.
New York then added to its roster by signing forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin both to one-year deals. Bouchard's contract is worth $2 million.
Navokov was a key move for the team's immediate future and settled its goaltending position.
The 37-year-old Nabokov went 23-11-7 with three shutouts in helping the Islanders reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007. New York was in need of veteran goaltending help after buying out the contract of Rick DiPietro.
Hamonic's signing was a big step in the Islanders' long-term future.
"We are excited to come to terms with Travis, who is an important part of our young core," general manager Garth Snow said. "He has shown he can play important minutes in any situation."
The team's 2008 second-round draft pick has 10 goals and 50 assists in 183 games over three seasons.
Hamonic had three goals and seven assists and averaged nearly 23 minutes of ice time in 48 games last season.
Bouchard is a dependable left wing who spent his first 10 seasons with Minnesota. He has 106 goals and 241 assists in 565 NHL games.
Regin spent the past five seasons with the Ottawa Senators.
He managed just three assists in 27 games last season. Regin set career highs with 13 goals and 29 points in 75 games in the 2009-10 season.
Kings sign defenceman Schultz
The Los Angeles Kings have signed unrestricted free agent defenceman Jeff Schultz to a deal.
He had no goals, three assists and 12 penalty minutes in 26 games with the Washington Capitals last season.
Schultz has spent his entire NHL career with the Capitals, with 11 goals, 64 assists and 133 penalty minutes in 399 games. He was drafted by the team in the first round of the 2004 NHL entry draft. During the 2011 playoffs, Schultz set a league post-season record by being on the ice for 119 consecutive minutes without his team being scored upon.
Sharks re-sign Hannan, extend Couture
The San Jose Sharks have re-signed defenceman Scott Hannan to a one-year contract and signed forward Tyler Kennedy to a two-year contract.
General manager Doug Wilson announced the deals at the start of free agency Friday. The Sharks also announced that star centre Logan Couture officially signed a five-year, $30 million contract that was agreed to last month but couldn't be signed until Friday.
Hannan was an unrestricted free agent while Kennedy was a restricted free agent after being acquired during the draft from Pittsburgh for a second-round pick.
The Sharks brought back Hannan for a second stint with the team at the trade deadline from Nashville for a sixth-round pick. He played four regular-season games with San Jose, but was in the lineup for all 11 playoff contests.
Alfredsson moves on
Longtime Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson pulled off the first stunner of the NHL free agency period by signing with the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.
It didn't take long for his former general manager to pull off a shocker of his own.
Just a few hours after Alfredsson ended his 17-season run in the nation's capital by signing a one-year deal with the Red Wings, Senators GM Bryan Murray landed star forward Bobby Ryan in a trade with Anaheim.
Ottawa gave up Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick in 2014 in the deal.
Alfredsson, 40, said while the Senators are moving in the right direction, he feels that signing with Detroit will give him the best chance of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time.
"It was an extremely hard decision to make but I feel it's the right one for me at this time," Alfredsson said on a conference call.
In a move almost as seemingly improbable as Alfredsson leaving Ottawa, the Boston Bruins signed forward Jarome Iginla to a one-year deal worth $1.8 million. With incentives, the 36-year-old could make up to $6 million.
Iginla, the long-time captain in Calgary appeared to be headed to Boston at the trade deadline when the Flames and Bruins had a deal in place. But Iginla spurned the Bruins and Calgary dealt him to Pittsburgh instead.
The Bruins swept Iginla and the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final.
In 1,232 games with Calgary and Pittsburgh, Iginla has 530 goals and 576 assists.
Several big-name players were on the move in the early-afternoon whirlwind, many of them signing lucrative long-term deals.
By mid-afternoon, the Toronto Maple Leafs were in on the action, signing forward David Clarkson to a seven-year deal worth a reported $36.75-million. The Leafs also re-signed forward Tyler Bozak to a reported $21-million, five-year contract along with tough guy Frazer McLaren to a two-year deal worth $1.4 million.
The Edmonton Oilers made a flurry of signings shortly after the free agency period began at noon Eastern Time, signing defenceman Andrew Ference to a four-year contract worth a reported $13 million. Ference helped Boston reach the Stanley Cup final last month.
The Oilers also confirmed the trade that will see forward Shawn Horcoff go to Dallas in exchange for defenceman Philip Larsen and a seventh-round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Edmonton also signed a pair of former Phoenix Coyotes, inking centre Boyd Gordon to a three-year deal and goaltender Jason Labarbera to a one-year deal. The Oilers also agreed to terms on two-year contracts with forwards Ryan Hamilton and Jesse Joensuu.
The Montreal Canadiens acquired forward George Parros from the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Philippe Lefebvre and a seventh-round pick in 2014.
The Winnipeg Jets stayed quiet until they made a trade to pick up right-winger Devin Setoguchi from the Minnesota Wild for a second-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Setoguchi had a career-high 65 points in 2008-09 while with the San Jose Sharks and hasn't come close to hitting that mark since.
In other moves Friday:
- The Senators signed forward Clarke MacArthur to a two-year contract.
- The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks re-signed defenceman Michal Rozsival to a two-year deal and forward Michal Handzus to a one-year contract. The team also replaced back-up goalie Ray Emery with a familiar face in Nikolai Khabibulin on a one-year deal.
- The Calgary Flames signed goaltender Karri Ramo to a $5.5-million, two-year deal and centres Greg Nemisz (one-year deal) and Corban Knight (two-year deal). Calgary also picked up defenceman Kris Russell from the St. Louis Blues for a fifth-round pick in 2014. The Flames later signed defencemen Chris Butler and Chad Billins to one-year contracts.
- The Vancouver Canucks signed centre Brad Richardson.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Geoff Walker to a one-year, two-way contract.
- The New York Rangers agreed to terms with forwards Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot, as well as defenceman Aaron Johnson.