Columbus Blue Jackets’ Sam Gagner looks for an open shot against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. 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 CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jay LaPrete

Canucks sign Gagner to three-year contract

VANCOUVER — 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 defenceman Patrick Wiercioch to a one-year deal worth $650,000.

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.

“I’m very excited to become part of the @Canucks. It’s a great hockey city and my family can’t wait to be back in Canada!” Gagner said on Twitter.

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.”

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.

The Canucks also re-signed forward Anton Rodin to a one-year contract worth $700,000. He missed most of last season due to injury.

The Canadian Press

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