Oilers sign Ference, Gordon, LaBarbera
Edmonton GM MacTavish continues to remake team
Defenceman Andrew Ference is returning to his hometown, signing with the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers signed Ference, 34, to a four-year deal worth $13 million US per season. It represents a raise of $1 million per season over his expiring contract with Boston.
Edmonton soon after the Ference move announced the signings of recent Phoenix players Boyd Gordon and Jason LaBarbera.
"We got a lot more depth," Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish said at the end of a busy day.
"Andrew Ference is a really big piece for us. Our depth on defence we have substantially improved. I've had my eye on him all year thinking he would be a perfect fit for our group," said MacTavish.
"He's a guy who is a warrior, had great experience, is still playing at a very high level. When I talked at the end of the year about the need for our group to better understand the commitment level necessary to have success, Andrew's the guy who not only can articulate that, but he demonstrates it by the way he plays."
Ference has played in three Stanley Cup finals, winning with the Bruins in 2011. In addition to Boston's appearance in the final last month, the blue-liner was with Calgary when they lost in the 2003 final to Tampa Bay.
Boston, with salary cap pressures and more than a couple of young defencemen on the horizon, opted to not re-sign Ference. The Bruins had obtained him in February 2007 in a multi-player trade with the Flames.
Originally drafted by Pittsburgh in 1997, Ference has recorded 37 goals and 156 assists in 760 career regular season games, with 645 penalty minutes.
Edmonton earlier acquired defender Philip Larsen from Dallas in a trade that saw veteran Shawn Horcoff head to the Stars.
"A bittersweet day," MacTavish said of the Horcoff deal. "It's one of those deals that's right for both sides. Horc had become a bit of a lightning rod around here. I was the guy who gave him the captaincy, saw him come in here as a young player and really develop into a guy who was a first-line centre on a team that was one game away from winning a Stanley Cup."
Defensive forward Gordon, who can play right wing or centre, has 39 goals and 83 assists in 486 NHL games spent with Phoenix and Washington. Gordon, who will turn 30 in October, signed a three-year deal.
Labarbera signed a one-year contract. The veteran backup spent the last four seasons with the Coyotes and has six shutouts in 175 career games, with stops also with Vancouver, the New York Rangers and Los Angeles.
He has a career average of 2.84, with a .909 save percentage.
The Oilers also signed forward Jesse Joensuu, who has played 67 NHL games with New York Islanders, to a two-year deal. Minor-league forward Ryan Hamilton and Will Acton also signed up for two years each.
The one player he went after hard but failed to sign was forward David Clarkson, who elected to sign with Toronto.
"I was really disappointed when I heard he was not going to be coming to Edmonton. Really had a good feel for him, thought this guy was an Oiler."
MacTavish said he isn't yet finished remaking the Oiler roster.
"The one thing we didn't address enough of here is the toughness aspect so we're going to go back and continue to beat the bushes to try to find that element."
With files from The Canadian Press