Bertuzzi headlines another busy day in NHL free agency Print
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Monday, 02 July 2007 17:04
NHL Headline News

 Todd Bertuzzi gave Day 2 of the NHL free-agent signing period some of the star-quality that highlighted the first day of the shopping season.
Bertuzzi left Hockeytown and headed west to Tinseltown, agreeing to terms Monday night on a two-year, $8 million deal with the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks.
He was the highest-profile player to switch teams Monday, which featured a lot of the activity of the first day of free agency even if it lacked the big names.
The best remaining center came off the board earlier in the day when Michael Nylander left the New York Rangers - who stocked up on the position Sunday - and came to terms on a four-year, $19.5 million contract with the Washington Capitals.
If Nylander can set up Alexander Ovechkin the way he did former Rangers teammate Jaromir Jagr, the Capitals will be quite pleased with their latest free-agent signing. Jagr, a bust in 2 1/2 seasons with the Capitals, is not held in high regard in the nation's capital. But Nylander helped the star forward with superb playmaking in New York.
Playing on Jagr's line last season with the Rangers, Nylander posted career highs of 26 goals and 83 points and turned that into a lucrative contract with the Capitals. It was Washington's third free-agent signing in two days.
Washington signed defenseman Tom Poti and forward Viktor Kozlov away from the New York Islanders on Sunday.
Nylander turned down offers to return to New York, then was cut out of the mix by the Rangers when they signed a pair of No. 1 centers, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury. With Drury's former Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere going to Philadelphia on Sunday, Nylander was the best free agent center left.
And the Capitals went deep into the checkbook to get him to play with Ovechkin, already a star after two NHL seasons.
The Montreal Canadiens shook off the disappointment of not landing Briere or fellow forward Ryan Smyth on Sunday and reached deals with center Bryan Smolinski and former Calgary defenseman Roman Hamrlik. Smolinski, who split time with Chicago and Vancouver last season, agreed to a one-year contract worth $2 million. Hamrlik got a four-year, $22 million deal.
Hamrlik, the No. 1 pick in the 1992 draft, spent the past two seasons with the Flames and wanted a longer deal than the two years offered by Calgary. Staying in Canada was another factor in his decision.
``It's like playing soccer in England,'' said Hamrlik, who will earn $5.5 million per season - a $2 million raise. ``I really, really enjoy playing in Canada, especially for the Montreal Canadiens because they have a great history.''
The 33-year-old Czech native had 38 points and a plus-22 rating in 75 games last season.
Trying to keep up with their successful neighbors in Anaheim, the Los Angeles Kings made a flurry of moves.
Los Angeles agreed to terms with center Michal Handzus on a four-year, $16-million contract; forward Ladislav Nagy on a one-year deal worth $3.75-million; defenseman Tom Preissing on a four-year, $11-million contract; and forward Kyle Calder on a two-year, $5.5-million contract.
``I think today we're a better hockey team,'' Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said. ``We got some good hockey players.''
The Kings struck out on Sunday but rebounded on Day 2.
``I'm glad we didn't have to fall to Plan C,'' Lombardi said. ``Once the big boys went, so to speak, we were ready. I'm glad we did move quickly.''
In other moves Monday:
- Owen Nolan left the Phoenix Coyotes for a one-year deal worth $1.75 million with the Calgary Flames.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins added veteran help to their stable of young stars, signing forward Petr Sykora and defenseman Darryl Sydor to two-year, $5 million contracts.
- Robert Lang agreed to a two-year contract worth $8 million with Chicago.
- The Atlanta Thrashers signed defenseman Ken Klee to a two-year, $2.5-million deal.
- Jed Ortmeyer, the only NHL player from Nebraska, left the Rangers for a two-year, $1.5 million deal. But New York re-signed defenseman Jason Strudwick for next season at $500,000.
- Bates Battaglia stayed with Toronto, signing a two-year contract for $1.3 million.
Bertuzzi split an injury-plagued season with Florida and Detroit, which acquired him at the trade deadline. Because of a herniated disk in his back, the rugged right winger played only 15 regular-season games, recording three goals and eight assists.
He saw more action in the postseason with the Red Wings, playing 16 games and putting up three goals and four assists.
Bertuzzi is the second Red Wings player to leave for Anaheim in two days. Veteran defenseman Mathieu Schneider made the move Sunday.
 

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