(Vancouver Canucks photo)

Vancouver Canucks sign veteran centre Sam Gagner

Gagner, a 27-year-old native of London, Ont., had a career-high 50 points in 81 games last season

The Vancouver Canucks were busy on the opening day of free agency Saturday, signing centre Sam Gagner to a US$9.45-million, three-year contract and defenceman Michael Del Zotto to a $6-million, two-year deal.

The Canucks also signed goaltender Anders Nilsson to a $5-million, two-year contract and inked defenceman Patrick Wiercioch, forward Alexander Burmistrov and forward Anton Rodin to one-year deals. Wiercioch’s deal is worth $650,000, Burmistrov’s contract is worth $900,000 and Rodin’s deal is for $700,000.

Gagner, a 27-year-old native of London, Ont., had a career-high 50 points (18-32) in 81 games last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The five-foot-11 202-pound forward has 402 points (142-260) in 696 career NHL regular-season games. Gagner, who spent his first seven NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, has also played for the Arizona Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers.

“Sam is a hardworking, right-shot centre with good speed and skill,†Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a release. “He brings tremendous experience to our team and will set a good example for our younger players.”

Del Zotto, 27, had six goals and 12 assists in 51 games last season for the Philadelphia Flyers. He has 189 points (47-142) in 484 career regular-season games.

“Michael is a mobile, playmaking defenceman who adds depth and scoring to our blue line,” said Benning. “His ability to log big minutes and contribute in all situations will help our team be competitive every night.”

Nilsson, 27, played 26 games last season with the Buffalo Sabres. He had a 10-10-4 record along with a .923 save percentage and a 2.67 goals-against average.

“Anders has a big, athletic frame and we expect that he will compete at high level when called upon,” said Benning.

Nilsson has a 29-32-8 record in 78 career NHL games with a .908 save percentage and 2.94 GAA.

Wiercioch, 26, had 12 points (4-8) in 57 games with the Colorado Avalanche last season. He has 74 points (16-58) in 268 career regular-season games.

Burmistrov, 25, split last season between the Winnipeg Jets and Arizona Coyotes. He had 16 points (5-11) in 49 games.

Rodin, 26, missed most of last season due to injury.

The Canadian Press

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