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Hawks sign Hossa to 12-year megadeal

JUST when the global economy was expected to diminish spending for NHL free agents, Slovak wing Marian Hossa hit the open market again.

And instead of taking a discount on a one-year deal to take another shot at a Stanley Cup title, Hossa signed a megadeal with the up-and-coming Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

The Blackhawks said goodbye to Martin Havlat and came to terms with Hossa on a 12-year, US$62.8 million contract.

It was the headline move on a typically busy first day of free-agent shopping.

The New York Rangers landed the second biggest prize of the day, signing high-scoring forward Marian Gaborik away from the Minnesota Wild with a five-year, US$37.5 million contract.

The NHL salary cap rose only US$100,000 from last season to US$56.8 million. With concerns that the financial crisis could strike the league harder this season, and force the 2010-11 cap to drop, the belief was teams would be more cautious about entering into long-term deals.

The Blackhawks didn't seem too concerned, and will absorb a cap hit on Hossa's contract of US$5.23 million.

Hossa is joining the Blackhawks and their young stars headlined by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

The Blackhawks also let goalie Nikolai Khabibulin go, watching him sign a four-year deal with Edmonton.

After marathon negotiations in Sweden, the Vancouver Canucks retained identical twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin - the team's top scorers last season.

Right before the pair reached the open market, they each signed five-year, US$30.5 million contracts.

"We really like it in Vancouver and that's where we wanted to stay," Henrik said.

The Montreal Canadiens were busy for a second straight day, signing former Calgary Flames forward Mike Cammalleri to a five-year, US$30 million deal, and defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill. Spacek left the Buffalo Sabres for a three-year, US$11.5 million contract, and Gill was lured away from the Penguins by a two-year contract worth US$4.5 million.

However, Montreal lost defenseman Mike Komisarek, who signed a five-year, US$22.5 million deal with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.

Star defenseman Scott Niedermayer made his return to the Anaheim Ducks official by agreeing to a one-year, US$6 million deal.


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