Free-agent roundup: Nylander back with Caps

The Washington Capitals on Monday added another offensive weapon to play with superstar Alexander Ovechkin, signing free-agent centre Michel Nylander to a four-year deal.

The Washington Capitals on Monday added anotheroffensive weapon to play with superstar Alexander Ovechkin, signing free-agent centreMichael Nylander to a four-year deal.

Nylander set career highs in goals (26), assists (57) and points (83) for the New York Rangers last season.

"In our minds there were four real good centres out there and we had a chance to get this one. And we got him," Capitals general manager George McPhee told Canadian Press on Monday night.

"You sort ofhave a hunch that certain things might work, and we thought that if things didn't work out for him in New York we stood a real good chance of it working out here."

Nylander returns to Washington, where he played for the Capitals between 2002 and 2004. In stints with Hartford, Calgary, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Boston, New York and Washington, the 15-year NHL veteran posted 609 points (189 goals, 420 assists) in 808 career games — including seven 50-point seasons.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Capitals on Sunday signedmobile defenceman Tom Poti, last of the New York Islanders.

Blackhawks land Lang

The Chicago Blackhawks added some scoring punch up front by signing unrestricted free-agent centre Robert Lang to a two-year contract worth $8 million US.

The 36-year-old Czech had 52 points (19-33) in 81 games with the Detroit Red Wings last season and should help a Chicago offence that ranked near the bottom of the league last season.

"Robert gives us another offensive weapon at centre," said Hawks GM Dale Tallon. "He is a right-hand shot who will be able to help us on our power play. He has played with Martin Havlat in international competition and they have a very good chemistry together.

"He definitely gives us more strength up the middle."

Penguins re-sign Whitney, add veterans

The Pittsburgh Penguins took the first steps toward keeping their young core intact byreaching a six-year, $24-million US deal withrestricted free-agent defenceman Ryan Whitneyon Monday.

Unlike many of the bigger-name free agentssigned on Sunday who will receive more money in the initial years of their contracts, Whitney's deal is backloaded in an effort to keep many of his teammates in Pittsburgh.

With Whitney receiving a reported $2.5 million US in the first year, the Penguins will have increased flexibility to re-sign stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal before they become eligible for free agency in the coming seasons.

The 24-year-old is coming off a spectacular campaign, finishing sixth among NHL defencemen with 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) in 81 games.

The Penguins weren'tfinished adding to their roster — they also announced they had agreed to terms with Darryl Sydor on a two-year deal as well as with speedy forward Petr Sykora, both of whom have won Stanley Cups.

Once considered among the NHL's elite offensive-minded defencemen, Sydor, 35, netted five goals and added 16 assists for the Dallas Stars last season. Sydor won was a member of championship teams with Dallas (1999) and Tampa Bay (2004).

Sykora, a playmaking right-winger, scored 22 goals and added 31 assists with the Edmonton Oilers last season. Sykora won a Cup with the New Jersey Devils (2000) and has also played with Anaheim and the New York Rangers.

4 new Kings

The Los Angeles Kings added a quartet of players by Monday evening, led by defenceman Tom Preissing.

The 28-year-old American blue-liner was a key addition to the Stanley Cup finalist Ottawa Senators last season, posting 38 points (7 goals, 31 assists) in 80 regular-season games with the Senators last season, but he also continued to be a strong two-way presence.

His staggering plus-40 rating tied him for third among all skaters in the NHL, but ranked him first in that category among NHL defencemen.

At an average salary of $2.75 million US per season, the deal is a substantial raise over the $600,000 US that Preissing made in Ottawa in 2006-07.

Los Angeles wasn't done, adding forwards Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy and Kyle Calder.

The six-foot-five Handzus is recovering from a season-ending knee injury last October with Chicago, while both Nagy and Calder were disappointments for the teams that acquired them at the trade deadline, Dallas and Detroit, respectively.

Handzus signed a four-year deal for $16 million US, Nagy came in at $3.75 million USfor one season, Calder $5.5 million US over two years and Preissing signed for $11 million US over four years. All four were unrestricted free agents.

Red Wings sign Rafalski

The Detroit Red Wings moved quickly to replace Mathieu Schneider on Sunday, signing unrestricted free-agent defenceman Brian Rafalski to a five-year, $30-million UScontract.

The 33-year-old Rafalski had a career-high 55 points (eight goals, 47 assists) in 82 games with the New Jersey Devils last season, the only NHL club he's ever played for.

The Wings lost free-agent defenceman Schneider earlier Sunday, when he signed a two-year, $11.25-million deal with the Anaheim Ducks.

Avalanche acquire defenceman Hannan

The Colorado Avalanche also dipped into the free-agent market for a top defenceman by signing unrestricted free-agent defenceman Scott Hannan to a four-year deal worth $18 million.

The stay-at-home blue-liner was widely regarded as one of the best available defensive-minded players in this year's free-agent class and coupled with rugged winger Ryan Smyth, also signed on Sunday, should vastly increase the level of grit and toughnessfor the Avalanche.

The 28-year-old blue-liner had 24 points (four goals, 20 assists) and a plus-1 rating with the San Jose Sharks last season.

Blues sign Kariya to three-year deal

With an uncertain future with the Nashville Predators, Paul Kariya opted to take a three-year deal with the St. Louis Blues.

The 32-year-old native of Vancouver is coming off two successful seasons with the Predators. Ownership issues, however,have prompted the Predators to sever ties with several of their pricier players and Kariya — who made $4.5 million last season — proved to be no exception.

Kariya scored 24 goals and added 52 assists in 82 games for the Predators last season and should provide an offensive spark to a Blues team that ranked near the bottom of the league in goal scoring last season.

"We are excited to announce we have signed a world class hockey player as well as a first class person," Blues president John Davidson said in a statement. "Paul gives us instant scoring up front as well as bringing an entertaining brand of hockey to the St. Louis Blues."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Zubov inks one-year extension with Stars

Dallas Stars defenceman Sergei Zubov signed a one-year $5.35-million US extension through 2008-09 with the Dallas Stars on Sunday, adding a year to a contract that was set to expire after next season.

Zubov, 37, is a two-time Stanley Cup winner, with the New York Rangers in 1994 and the Stars in '99. He has played 11 of his 15 NHL seasons with the Stars.

"This is the place that my family and I love, and I want to finish my career here," Zubov said.

The native of Moscow is the franchise leader among defencemen in goals (107), assists (403) and points (510).

Capitals pick up Poti

The Washington Capitals signed unrestricted free-agent defenceman Tom Poti to a four-year, $14-million contract on Sunday.

Poti, 30, had six goals and 38 assists in 78 games last season with the New York Islanders, while leading the team with an average of 25:42 of ice time per game.

In 594 career games with the Islanders, Rangers and Edmonton, Poti has 58 goals and 194 assists.

Blackhawks, Perreault agree to one-year pact

Unrestricted free-agentcentre Yanic Perreault has found a home in Chicago, signing a one-year deal worth$1.5 million.

Perreault, an all-star with Phoenix last season, finished the year with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 36-year-old faceoff specialist has 502 points in 802 career NHL games.

Panthers ink Zednik, McLean

The Florida Panthers signed twofree agents on Sunday, inking winger Richard Zednik to a two-year, $3.25-million deal, and locking up centre Brett McLean to a three-year, $5.1-million deal.

Zednik, 31, had seven goals and 14 assists in 42 games last season for the Capitals and Islanders.

McLean, 28, registered 15 goals and 20 assists in 78 games with the Colorado Avalanche.

Thrashers land White, Dupuis

The Atlanta Thrashers also signed a pair of unrestricted free agents,locking upforward Todd White to a four-year, $9.5-million contract, and getting forward Pascal Dupuis for one year and $880,000.

White, 32, had 13 goals and 31 assists in 77 games last season for the Minnesota Wild.

Dupuis was acquired by the Thrashers in a trade last season with the New York Rangers, who got him from the Minnesota Wild earlier in the season.

In 71 games with the three teams combined, Dupuis had 14 goals and five assists.

Bluesretain Jackman

The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenceman Barret Jackman to a one-year, $2.2-million deal. He was a restricted free agent.

On Saturday night, the Blues signed Keith Tkachuk to a two-year, $8-million contract. The Blues acquired his rights from Atlanta last week. He would have been unrestricted Sunday.

With files from the Canadian Press