NHL Notes: Scott Hartnell signs with Predators


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Predators brought back forward Scott Hartnell with a one-year, $1 million deal Saturday, adding depth up front for a franchise that lost James Neal to Vegas in the expansion draft.

"The No. 1 goal was to replace James Neal in our top-9 forwards and we did that with the signing of Nick Bonino," general manager David Poile said. "I really think with our center position, we've really strengthened an area that a little less than two years ago was in my mind a little bit of a weakness. Now with Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino, (Colton) Sissons, (Calle) Jarnkrok and still Mike Fisher undecided, I think we really are strong down the middle. For the first time in a long time, this might be as good at center ice as we've had."

Hartnell spent his first six seasons in Nashville after he was drafted No. 6 overall in 2000. He went on to play for the Flyers for seven seasons, becoming a first-time All-Star in 2012 while playing for Peter Laviolette, who is now behind the bench in Nashville.

"Absolutely love the guy," Hartnell said. "How do you not love his intensity? He's so well spoken. He gets the boys going. For our Stanley Cup run in Philadelphia, it was 100 percent because of Laviolette."

Hartnell spent the past two seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets, scoring 13 goals and adding 24 assists last season. He has 314 career goals and 683 points (see full story).


Rangers: Shattenkirk comes home, signs 4-year deal 
NEW YORK -- The Rangers have agreed to deals with defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and goalie Ondrej Pavelec on the opening day of free agency.

Shattenkirk was considered to be one of the top players available and fills a need on the team's blueline after the team bought out Dan Girardi and he is also a native of nearby New Rochelle.

Shattenkirk split last season between St. Louis and Washington and had 13 goals and 43 assists for 56 points in 80 games. He is one of four NHL defensemen who have at least 30 assists and 40 points in at least six of his first seven NHL seasons.

The Rangers also addressed their backup goalie situation by agreeing to a deal with veteran Ondrej Pavelec.

Pavelec will be the backup to Henrik Lundqvist after Antti Raanta was traded to Arizona last week.

Pavelec has played his entire career with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise. He had a 3.55 goals-against average last season with a .888 save percentage in eight games in the NHL, and a 2.78 GAA and .917 save percentage in 18 games in the AHL (see full story).

Hurricanes: Williams returns for 2nd stint in Carolina 
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Mr. Game 7 is coming back to the Carolina Hurricanes with the goal of leading them to another Game 1.

The Hurricanes opened free agency Saturday by bringing back 35-year-old forward Justin Williams on a two-year deal worth $9 million.

Williams, a key member of their 2006 Stanley Cup champion team, will make $5 million this season and $4 million in 2018-19.

The 2014 playoff MVP had 100 points combined the past two years with Washington, and after winning the Cup with the Hurricanes went on to win two more with Los Angeles.

Now Williams -- who earned the "Mr. Game 7" for his 7-1 career record in those series-deciding games -- will try to help Carolina snap the NHL's longest active playoff drought at eight years (see full story).

Panthers: Moving forward without Jagr
Jaromir Jagr gave the Florida Panthers some star power like perhaps never before, helped them win a division championship and unquestionably played a role in energizing what had been a stagnant fan base.

And now his tenure with the Panthers is over.

Making official what was suspected for some time, the Panthers revealed Saturday that they are going forward without the future sure-fire Hall of Fame forward. On a day dominated by free-agent signings -- like adding forwards Evgeny Dadonov, Radim Vrbata and Micheal Haley -- the biggest news out of Florida was that Jagr is no longer in the Panthers' plans.


"I can't say enough. It was an honor to be touched by a legend," said general manager Dale Tallon, who ultimately made the call to move on. "I was torn. It was a tough couple weeks, or months, whatever it was. Can't thank him enough. What he did for our kids, for myself and everyone in this organization, you can't measure it."

Jagr was with the Panthers for 2 1/2 seasons. He'll turn 46 next season, still wants to play and is coming off a 46-point season for a Florida team that wasn't exactly loaded with offensive weaponry. But in the end, a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press, the two sides were simply too far apart on financial terms to make any more talks feasible (see full story).

Ducks: Fowler re-signs with new 8-year deal
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Cam Fowler wanted to stay home, and Ryan Miller wanted to get closer to Hollywood. They both wanted to be in position to contend for the Stanley Cup next season.

Fowler and Miller got everything they desired from the Anaheim Ducks on the opening day of free agency.

Fowler agreed to an eight-year, $52 million contract extension with the Ducks on Saturday, keeping the cornerstone defenseman with the club through the 2025-26 season. Miller agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal to leave Vancouver for the Ducks as a free agent, teaming with John Gibson in Anaheim's goaltending tandem.

Fowler has been a fixture on the Ducks' blue line ever since he unexpectedly fell to them at No. 12 overall in the 2010 draft, and the Ducks now can keep the U.S. Olympian through the prime of his career. He was outstanding last season, excelling on both ends of the ice while racking up a career-best 11 goals and 28 assists.

"From top to bottom, Anaheim has always treated me right and given me a really great opportunity right from the very start," Fowler said in a phone interview. "With the coaching staff we have in place, our ownership and the roster that we have, I really feel like we're very close, and I think we've proven that," (see full story).

Blackhawks: Sharp returns to Chicago
Patrick Sharp figured he would return to Chicago. He just wasn't sure he would play for the Blackhawks again.

Sharp, a high-scoring winger who helped them win three Stanley Cup championships before getting traded, will once again suit up for Chicago next season. The 35-year-old veteran agreed Saturday to a one-year contract that guarantees $800,000. He could earn an additional $200,000 in incentives.

"I have a special place in my heart, my family does as well, for the city," he said. "We did have plans on returning - maybe not as a hockey player. But we definitely do want to live in that city at some point."


Sharp said he could have signed for more money elsewhere. But the lure of returning to the team where he enjoyed his greatest success was too strong.

Sharp spent 10 seasons with the Blackhawks from 2005 to 2015 and had 511 points, including 239 goals. He scored more than 30 goals four times in that span and helped transform Chicago into one of the most successful franchises along with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

Sharp got dealt to Dallas in a salary cap move after the Blackhawks beat Tampa Bay for the championship in 2015 (see full story).