VANCOUVER -- Dan Hamhuis turned down more money from other teams for a chance to play at home and maybe win a Stanley Cup.
The free-agent defenceman agreed to a US$27-million, six-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks Thursday, adding more depth and another big paycheque to the NHL team's blue-line.
Hamhuis, a native of Smithers, B.C., was twice traded since the end of the season to teams hoping to sign the talented defenceman. Even when other clubs waved more money at him, Hamhuis kept his eye on the Canucks.
"We did get some different offers from other teams," said the 27-year-old who spent six seasons playing with the Nashville Predators. "Some of them were higher in contract value.
"We liked the fit in Vancouver. We liked the opportunity it presented from a hockey perspective and the lifestyle perspective for my family."
Hamhuis also is excited about the chance of advancing past the first round of the playoffs, something he hasn't done since playing junior hockey for the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League.
"It's been a long time since I've been out of the first round," he said during a telephone conference call. "I hope to get past that with Vancouver and further.
"It's a team that is committed to winning. You can see the way they spend their money. They sign close to the (salary) cap or right to the cap every year to give themselves the best chance to win. It's exciting to be part of something like that."
Canuck GM Mike Gillis said the mobile, six-foot-one, 200-pound Hamhuis was the No. 1 player Vancouver targeted on the first day of free agency.
Gillis liked the fact Hamhuis was willing to pocket less money for the chance to hold a Stanley Cup.
"We're trying to compete for a Stanley Cup and ultimately players have to do that if they want be in that environment," Gillis said. "We were thrilled he was prepared to come here for less money."
Hamhuis, who spends a couple of weeks every year training in Vancouver, said he'd already received over a 100 text messages from friends and family around the northern B.C. town of Smithers excited about him playing for the Canucks.
"We are expecting a big change as far as being anonymous in Nashville," said Hamhuis, who is married with two young daughters.
The Canucks were busy Thursday, also signing centres Manny Malhotra and Joel Perreault plus left-winger Jeff Tambellini.
Malhotra agreed to a $7.5-million, three-year contract that includes a no-trade clause. Last summer, he signed a $700,000, one-year deal in San Jose.
With the ability to play either centre or wing, Malhotra is expected to compete for a spot on Vancouver's third line.
"We wanted to get more size into our lineup on the forward position," said Gillis. "Manny adds a dimension we didn't have. He's a really good penalty k!ller.
"Clearly, based on our penalty k!lling last year, we had to improve in that area."
Hamhuis collected 32 goals and 161 points in 483 games in Nashville. He had five goals and 24 points last season. The Predators traded his negotiating rights to Philadelphia for defenceman Ryan Parent on June 19.
The Flyers then traded him last week to Pittsburgh for a third-round draft pick in 2011.
A solid two-way defender, Hamhuis has also been durable. He has played at least 78 games each season with the Predators, making him a welcome addition to the Canucks, whose defence has been decimated by injuries the last two seasons.
The Canucks now have eight defenceman, six of whom will earn over $3 million next season.
Vancouver acquired top-four defenceman Keith Ballard as part of a five-player trade with Florida at the draft last week.
Ballard is under contract for the next five seasons at $4.2 million a year. Alex Edler is signed for the next three at $3.25 million per season. But Sami Salo ($3.5 million), Christian Ehrhoff ($3.1 million) and Kevin Bieksa ($3.75 million) are going into the final year of their deals and are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
There already is speculation the Canucks may deal Bieksa this summer.
Gillis pulled on his poker face when asked if Vancouver would trade a defenceman.
"We're going to cross that bridge after the dust settles here," he said. "There is lot's of opportunity.
"Last year we thought we had plenty of defenceman and we went into the season and ended up not having enough. There is lots of time to think about those issues."
Veteran Willie Mitchell is an unrestricted free agent but his future remains in doubt after missing the last half of the season with a concussion.
Malhotra had 14 goals and 33 points while playing a shutdown role and k!lling penalties with the Sharks. The six-foot-two, 220-pound centre has scored 90 goals and 230 points in 705 NHL games with the New York Rangers, Dallas, Columbus and San Jose.
"When you look at the roster, there's an opportunity to win right now," Malhotra said during a conference call. "As a player, you want to be in a situation where you know the team is a good team, it's a competitive team and a team that can go far into the playoffs."
The Canucks finished first in the Northwest Division with 103 points last season before losing to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago in the second round of the playoffs.
"We talked to a few teams," Malhotra said. "This was the best blend of every aspect, and we had the opportunity to jump on it right away so we took it."
Perreault will likely compete for a job on Vancouver's fourth line after splitting the last four seasons between Phoenix and its San Antonio AHL affiliate.
Tambellini -- the son of former Canucks executive Steve Tambellini, who is now the Edmonton Oilers' general manager -- agreed to a one-year deal.
He had seven goals and 14 points in 36 games last season with the New York Islanders. In 180 career games he has 18 goals and 46 points.
I love the fact we picked up Malholtra, him and Kesler on the PK
Also love the fact that Hamhuis turned down more money just so he could come too the Canucks.
.. & Now if we could move Bieksa.
The "A-Train" will be rolling into New Jersey next season as Anton Volchenkov is finalizing a six-year, $25.5 million deal with the Devils. The contract also has a no-trade clause.
Considered one of the top defensive defencemen in the league, the 28-year old Volchenkov finished eighth in the NHL with 172 blocked shots last season, despite playing in only 64 games. He added 153 hits as well as four goals and 10 a.ssists.
The rugged Russian blueliner should give the team's penalty k!lling unit an immediate boost.
Originally a first round pick, 21st overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, the Moscow native has 16 goals and 78 a.ssists in 428 career games.
Details to follow.
OTTAWA -- Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators got their man on the opening day of free agency, signing veteran Sergei Gonchar to fill a long-existing void on the team's blue-line.
"It adds a great deal to our team -- back-end mobility, the point on the power play. That's how you win games in the league now," said Murray, who inked the 36-year-old Gonchar to a three-year, US$16-million deal on Thursday, just minutes after the start of free-agent season.
"He was our No. 1 guy."
The addition of Gonchar, who's been named to four all-star games and won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 during his 15-year NHL career, gives the Senators a different look on the back end.
With Anton Volchenkov allowed to leave as an unrestricted free agent and Andy Sutton also not being re-signed, Ottawa loses two of the league's top shot-blocking rearguards. However, it now gains one of the league's premier offensive defencemen -- something the Senators have previously lacked.
"From a coach's perspective, I'm very excited," Senators coach Cory Clouston said. "Bryan mentioned that we put together a list of players that we could potentially go after and (Gonchar), obviously, was on the top of our list.
"I think he adds a lot to our club. We're sad to see Anton go, but we have to turn a page."
Murray said the Senators were on the phone trying to land the native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, by 12:01 eastern time. The pursuit of Gonchar will likely be the team's biggest free agent chase of the summer.
He's looking forward to joining a team that he's helped eliminate in two of the past three playoff years, as well as the prospect of playing in Canada after suiting up for the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins and Penguins during his career.
"I played against Ottawa during last year's playoffs and I was able to see how good they are," Gonchar said in a conference call.
He's expected to visit Ottawa next week.
"They were close to making the next step and going far in the playoffs and I think I can help them with that.
"Also, playing in Canada is something special. Every time I've played in Canada, I always play better and I enjoy playing over there and that's another reason I wanted to sign with them."
Now, with youngster Erik Karlsson developing into an offensive blue-liner and Filip Kuba returning from a long spell out because of injury, the Senators have made over their blue-line into a much more mobile, creative bunch.
Also, at last week's entry draft, they sent their first-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for 19-year-old David Rundblad, who, like Karlsson, is another skilled Swede. Rundblad is expected to remain in Sweden for another season, however.
"It's great to block shots, but I'd like the other team to block shots and you do that by having the puck and helping the forwards get the attack going and being creative, and in particular, from the back end," Murray said.
Murray said Gonchar brings skating, hands and poise that instantly make the Senators better offensively. Ottawa ranked 15th in the league with 2.68 goals per game this past season.
"You need a guy who can contribute offensively and help your forwards because of the coaching and systems in the league now," he said.
The Senators were just 21st in the NHL on the power play and Gonchar could make a big difference there.
Gonchar's deal includes a no-trade clause. He missed 20 games because of injury last season, but still managed to record 11 goals and 39 a.ssists, seventh in the league among defenceman scoring. His 30 power-play points were third among all blue-liners.
Gonchar missed most of the season two years ago and some critics of the signing suggest he's a risk for three years given his age, but Gonchar said he's had no lingering effects from previous injuries and intends on being available for the 2014 Winter Olympics in his native Russia.
The Senators also re-signed forward Jesse Winchester, 26, to a two-year deal worth US $750,000 per season.
Winchester, a native of Long Sault, Ont., recorded two goals and 11 a.ssists in 52 games this past season.
I do not get why Ottawa let him go and sign an aging Gonchar for 1.5M more??
Obviously will be a good mentor for Karlsson.