Senators continue summer improvement with signing of Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux is heading north.

The Ottawa Senators signed the forward to a deal worth a reported $19.5 million US over three years as NHL free agency opened Wednesday.

Giroux confirmed he had signed with Ottawa in an interview on TSN.

The move is another big one in the nation’s capital as the team pivots out of its rebuild with a young core led by captain Brady Tkachuk, star defenceman Thomas Chabot and star winger Tim Stützle.

Giroux had spent his entire NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers before being acquired by the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers at the trade deadline in March.

An unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, he combined to register 25 goals and 65 points in 75 regular-season games in 2021-22 before adding eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 playoff contests.

The 34-year-old grew up in Hearst, Ont., but moved to the nation’s capital with his family as a teen and starred for the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on the other side of the Ottawa River for three seasons.

Giroux, who will carry a $6.5-million cap hit with the Senators, has registered 294 goals and 923 points in 1,018 games over his 15 seasons to go along with 81 points (28 goals, 53 assists) in 95 playoff contests.

The signing capped a huge week for Senators general manager Pierre Dorion, who acquired sniper Alex DeBrincat from Chicago at the draft, shed goaltender’s Matt Murray’s contract in a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and then swung a trade with the Minnesota Wild for netminder Cam Talbot.

Avs re-sign Manson

The Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche have re-signed defenceman Josh Manson to an $18 million, four-year contract.

The team announced the deal Wednesday before Manson could hit free agency.

Acquiring Manson at the trade deadline was one of several moves that helped Colorado win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001. The 2023 second-round draft pick and defence prospect Drew Helleson was a small price to pay for the big defender who provided some toughness for the high-scoring, skilled Avalanche.

Manson, who turns 31 before opening night, dished out several big hits during the Avalanche’s championship run that culminated with beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final. He had eight points in 20 games.

This move comes after Colorado re-signed Valeri Nichushkin to a $49 million, eight-year deal and likely spells the end of Nazem Kadri’s time in Denver. Kadri is expected to cash in as an unrestricted free agent.

Devils, Bruins swap forwards

The New Jersey Devils swapped forwards with the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, trading winger Pavel Zacha for center Erik Haula in a deal completed less than an hour before the NHL’s free agency period opened.

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 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 Buffalo, the Sabres locked up one of their 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.

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