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Posted on Wed. Jul. 02, 2014 - 12:31 am EDT


Teams jump into free-agent waters

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NHL teams quickly snatched up the best players available in free agency, giving Paul Stastny, Jarome Iginla and Ryan Miller new homes in the league.

When the market opened Tuesday, teams tried to make a splash to improve their rosters and fire up fans.

Stastny cashed in, signing a $28 million, four-year contract with the St. Louis Blues, leaving the Central Division rival Colorado Avalanche.

“It’s a tough decision, (but) I was in a good position,” Stastny, a St. Louis native, told the Blues’ website.

The Avs gave Iginla a three-year, $16 million deal Tuesday, his 37th birthday. The wing had 30 goals to tie for the most in Boston last season.

The Avs also acquired a veteran defenseman, Brad Stuart from San Jose.

After trading away Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, the Vancouver Canucks gave goaltender Miller a three-year deal worth $18 million.

“I like to think that this team can get its mojo back, have a good attitude and push forward,” said Miller, 33.

The Washington Capitals also made a big splash – or at least spent the most money on a pair of players.

Washington signed defenseman Matt Niskanen to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract soon after sealing a $27.5 million, five-year deal with defenseman Brooks Orpik.

The Minnesota Wild signed forward Thomas Vanek to a $19.5 million, three-year deal.

Dallas got a jump on the competition before free agency began, acquiring high-scoring forward Jason Spezza in a trade with Ottawa, taking advantage of having space under the salary cap.

Before the sun set on Day 1 of free agency, more than 10 teams had handed out contracts worth more than $4 million a season.

Florida invested tens of millions on free agents, adding centers Dave Bolland ($27.7 million, five years) and Jussi Jokinen ($16 million, four years), along with Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Willie Mitchell ($8.5 million, two years).

Buffalo infused its roster with veteran talent, giving forward Matt Moulson $25 million over five years and forward Brian Gionta a $12.75 million, three-year contract.

“There’s a lot of things that happen on free agency day that some teams look back and wonder why they did it,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said.

The Tampa Bay Lightning also were active, landing veteran defensemen Anton Stralman and forward Brian Boyle to give the team more grit after it was swept in the first round of the playoffs. Both helped the Rangers make the Stanley Cup finals, as did center Brad Richards, who signed with Chicago.

Tampa Bay also added goaltender Evgeni Nabokov after not having a backup capable of playing well when Ben Bishop was hurt in April.

The Rangers made up some of their losses after reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in two decades by signing highly coveted veteran defenseman Dan Boyle.

New York also added defensemen Matt Hunwick and Mike Kostka.

Mike Cammalleri signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. They also brought back former Devils goaltender Scott Clemmensen and forward Martin Havlat.

Ottawa re-signed veteran forward Milan Michalek to a three-year contract worth $12 million.

Some notable players still available: Dany Heatley, Mike Ribeiro, Daniel Alfredsson and Martin Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time winningest goalie.

The Detroit Red Wings signed restricted free agent forward Riley Sheahan to a $1.9 million, two-year contract.

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