Joe Yerdon

Canucks sign Santorelli

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Vancouver didn’t wait long to find a way to replace Maxim Lapierre by signing centerman Mike Santorelli away from Winnipeg.

Last season, he suited up for both the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets and had two goals and two assists combined with both teams. His 10 games with the Jets saw him net just one helper.

Back in 2010-2011, however, he scored 20 goals for the Panthers. Perhaps there’s a bit more to his game than lets on. At the very least, signing a local guy should go over well.

With Lapierre off to St. Louis, the Canucks have a hole to fill on their fourth line. Santorelli has been a depth player in all of his NHL stays and will fill the same kind of role in Vancouver.

Lecavalier likes Flyers system ‘better than staying on your heels’

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Vincent Lecavalier finally spoke with Philadelphia media and may have gotten a dig in at his former coach, Guy Boucher, while doing so.

While the Flyers finally announced Lecavalier’s deal, he was asked his thoughts about the Flyers’ up-tempo system under Peter Laviolette and if he liked that. It turns out he’s a big fan.

“I like that better than staying on your heels” Lecavalier said. “I think when you’re on your heels a lot more, you’re not in the game as much. You’re not as sharp and as quick. I think if you’re on your toes like the Flyers play, I think it makes you a better hockey player.”

When Boucher was let go in Tampa, it was believed there was tension there between himself and some of the veteran players and his defensive system may have been part of that.

If you’ll recall, it was against the Flyers when Boucher’s 1-3-1 forecheck system was challenged via stalling as the Flyers sat back in their own zone waiting to be pursued.

Perhaps all that staying back on their heels was why Tampa’s defense was so poor the last couple seasons and not the motley crew of blue liners that took part in it. Oh, right.

Big names still to be had on Day 2 of free agency

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Yesterday was a monster day for signings as free agency kicked off. As you’ll see in our free agent tracker, there were a lot of players finding new addresses to play next season.

Not everyone is off the board yet and there are quite a few big names still left to be had. Who might we see go this weekend? Soak it in.

The best value and talent might be found amongst the forwards with these five standing out:

Mikhail Grabovski
Derek Roy
Jaromir Jagr
Damien Brunner
Teemu Selanne

You’d have to think for Selanne it’s Anaheim or retirement, but hey, Daniel Alfredsson showed you can do whatever you want and probably get a lot of grief for it.

If you’re itching for a defenseman or goalie, things get a bit riskier there.

Amongst the blue liners, there’s Marek Zidlicky, Douglas Murray, Ryan Whitney, Joe Corvo, Wade Redden, and Ian White. Each player has a role they fill, but you’re not changing the outlook of your team with them.

The same could be said of the goalies left to pick from: Ilya Bryzgalov, Tim Thomas, Jose Theodore, and Johan Hedberg are still out there.

If a solid backup is what you need, Hedberg or Theodore is your man. If you want to shake up the ranks, however, Bryz and Thomas are as good as it gets.

Sabres re-sign Sulzer to one-year deal

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The Sabres defense is going to stay a bit crowded next season.

The team announced the re-signing of defenseman Alexander Sulzer to a one-year deal. Specifics were not immediately available.

Sulzer emerged a bit last season when teamed up with fellow German Christian Ehrhoff and put up three goals and one assist in 17 games. Now he joins a crowded house of mostly inexperienced (at the NHL level at least) blue liners.

With Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Mike Weber, and newly acquired Jamie McBain, four spots on the Sabres’ defense seem set leaving Sulzer, Mark Pysyk, and Chad Ruhwedel to battle out for the other two spots. Minor leaguer Drew Bagnall (who also signed a multi-year, two-way deal today) factors lightly into the mix as well.

Of course, the picture could become more muddled if they sign someone else.

Ribeiro excited to be reunited with Tippett in Phoenix

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Mike Ribeiro signing with the Phoenix Coyotes may have caught some by surprise, but he had special motivation to head to the desert.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett knows Ribeiro well from their three seasons together in Dallas and for Ribeiro, he couldn’t wait to get back together with his old mentor as NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman shares.

“I think that was my No. 1 goal” he said. “To go somewhere knowing the coach and knowing a little bit of what they were looking for and what my role was going to be and being comfortable, and being able to communicate with the coach. He’s done a great job there in Phoenix. He knows what he can get from me and I know what he wants and I’m ready to work for that.”

Ribeiro had two of his biggest seasons as a pro under Tippett. In 2007-2008 he had 27 goals and 56 assists for a career-high 83 points. He followed that up with 78 points the next year.

While his production hasn’t been quite that high lately, if he can bring his deft touch in setting others up, the Coyotes will be more than happy to have it.