By JOHN WAWROW and STEPHEN WHYNO
Claude Giroux is set to enjoy a homecoming in Ottawa, while the Edmonton Oilers began addressing their goaltending needs by agreeing to sign Jack Campbell as the NHL’s free agency period opened Wednesday.
Giroux, who’s from northern Ontario and played his junior hockey across the river from Ottawa in Gatineau, Quebec, signed a $19.5 million, three-year contract with the Senators, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
The Oilers announced that Campbell has signed a five-year, $25 million contract with Edmonton.
And another high-profile goalie has a new home as the Stanley Cup-winning Darcy Kuemper has signed with the Washington Capitals, a $26.25 million, five-year contract.
The 34-year-old Giroux brings a veteran and leadership presence to Ottawa’s mix of youngsters. He spent his first 14-plus seasons in Philadelphia, where he served as the Flyers captain, before being traded to Florida in March.
“I wouldn’t sign here if I didn’t think we had a chance to win the Cup,” Giroux told Canada’s TSN. “I’m not saying we’re going to win the Cup this year, but the plan is to build on it and have baby steps for that.”
Giroux has topped 20 goals nine times, and finished second in the NHL scoring race with 102 points in 2017-18.
Campbell leaves the Toronto Maple Leafs for Edmonton, where he is projected to compete for the Oilers starting job after veteran Mike Smith’s playoff inconsistencies led to the Oilers being outscored 22-13 in being swept by Colorado in the Western Conference finals. Campbell cashes in on a season in which he had career highs in wins with a 31-9-6 record, five shutouts and 47 starts.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are losing Ondrej Palat, but brought back a familiar face. They’ve signed winger Vladislav Namestnikov to a one-year contract. Namestnikov was with the Lightning when they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2015.
A person with knowledge of the move tells The AP the Anaheim Ducks have signed forward Frank Vatrano to a $10.95 million, three-year deal with a $3.65 million cap hit. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
The Chicago Blackhawks followed what’s been an offseason purge by finally began adding players in signing forwards Andreas Athanasiou and Max Domi to one-year, $3 million contracts, a person with direct knowledge of the signings told The AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deals haven’t been announced.
The signings come at a time the Blackhawks went into rebuilding mode by trading center Kirby Dach to Montreal and forward Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa in separate deals last week. Chicago is also buying out the final year of Brett Connolly and Henrik Borgstrom’s respective contracts after they cleared waivers.
The Buffalo Sabres added experienced goaltending depth at what was a patchwork and injury-depleted position last season by signing Eric Comrie to a two-year deal. The former Winnipeg Jets backup will be in the mix to compete for playing time with veteran Craig Anderson and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who spent last year developing in the minors.
Buffalo also locked up one of its top offensive players by agreeing to re-sign Victor Olofsson to a two-year contract worth $9.5 million. Olofsson, who turns 26 next week, was a restricted free agent and scored 20 goals and a career-best 49 points last season.
The Vancouver Canucks signed former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev to a four-year, $19 million contract.
Teams were busy before the free agency period opened with the New Jersey Devils trading forward Pavel Zacha to the Boston Bruins for center Erik Haula. The move balances out the Devils’ lineup with New Jersey in the mix to land forward Johnny Gaudreau, one of free agency’s top prizes after he turned down an offer to re-sign with the Calgary Flames.
Haula has nine seasons of NHL experience and joins his fifth team since opening the 2019-20 season with Carolina.
The 31-year-old had 18 goals and 44 points in 78 games with the Bruins last season and adds a veteran presence to a young Devils lineup.
The trade also provides New Jersey more cost certainty under the salary cap to go after Gaudreau, who finished tied for second in the NHL scoring race with 115 points and is from Salem, New Jersey. Zacha is a restricted free agent and eligible for salary arbitration this offseason.
The re-tooling Bruins get younger in adding the 25-year-old Zacha, who was selected with the No. 6 pick in the 2015 draft. Zacha has seven seasons of NHL experience and is coming off a season in which he scored 15 goals and finished with a career-best 36 points.
In addition to Gaudreau, Colorado Stanley Cup champions Nazem Kadri and Darcy Kuemper and Dallas defenseman John Klingberg headline one of the deepest groups of free agents in recent history. And that’s after Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Edmonton’s Evander Kane took their names off the market by re-signing with their respective teams.
The St. Louis Blues kept defenseman Nick Leddy around after acquiring him from Detroit at the trade deadline, signing him to a $16 million, four-year deal.
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