The Vancouver Canucks signed defenceman Jason Garrison to a six-year contract on the first day of NHL free agency Sunday.

Garrison, who grew up in the oceanside Vancouver-area community of White Rock, B.C., joins the Canucks after four seasons with the Panthers organization, where he emerged as a 23-minutes-per-game defenceman.

The 27-year-old recorded 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 77 games with Florida last season. He also compiled a modest 32 penalty minutes and his goals total established a new Panthers club record for defencemen.

The six-foot-two, 220-pound University of Minnesota-Duluth rearguard added a goal and two assists in the playoffs.

The Canucks did not disclose financial terms, but reports suggest his contract will pay him an average of $4.6 million US a season.

Garrison was viewed as a prime candidate to join the Canucks before free agency opened due to his Vancouver ties. He appeared to become expendable in Florida after the Panthers signed defenceman Filip Kuba away from the Ottawa Senators.

Meanwhile, the Canucks lost two defencemen to free agency Sunday. Sami Salo joined the Tampa Bay Lightning while Aaron Rome signed with the Dallas Stars.