SUN Hockey Pool

Yandle happy to stay in Phoenix

Coyotes defenceman Keith Yandle skates with the puck past Stars forward Tomas Vincour at Jobing.com...

Coyotes defenceman Keith Yandle skates with the puck past Stars forward Tomas Vincour at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., March 1, 2011. (CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/Getty Images/AFP)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Anonymity seems to suit Keith Yandle just fine.

Yandle, one of the NHL's least-recognized elite defencemen, opted to remain out of the spotlight by signing a long-term deal with the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday instead of going after big bucks in a higher-profile market. The five-year contract will pay Yandle, who was a restricted free agent, a reported $26.25 million.

"Getting it done now is the best thing that could have happened," Yandle said on a conference call. "Five years shows how much I believe in the team and want to be in Phoenix. The experience already has been so great that I want to be there and play there for a long time."

Despite finishing third in scoring among NHL defencemen last season, recording 11 goals and 48 assists in 82 games, Yandle remains largely unknown even in some of hockey's eastern hotbeds. The 24-year-old from Boston has developed into one of the league's best young blueliners and played in his first NHL all-star game last season.

"Keith is an elite player and one of the game's best young defenceman," Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. "He is an important part of our future and we are thrilled to sign him to a long-term contract."

The Yandle signing, though, was just one of many deals as the free-agent frenzy resumed after taking a few days off over the holiday weekend.

In the biggest moves, former Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle signed a three-year, $12.75 million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes and forward Andrew Ladd, the last captain of the Atlanta Thrashers, inked a five-year, $22 million extension with the Winnipeg Jets.

The Hurricanes turned their attention to Kaberle when defenceman Joe Corvo asked for a trade last weekend.

"Once we talked about moving Joe, it moved us back into the free agent market," Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said on the team's website. "We feel (Kaberle) is one of the top puck-moving defenceman in the league."

Although Kaberle signed for the same money he's made the last five years, Ladd got a big boost in pay, jumping from $2.35 million to $4 million for the 2011-12 season. He'll be paid $4.5 million in each of the next four years of the deal.

"The last year's been pretty exciting for me, in terms of the different role I was given and an opportunity to be one of the leaders in the organization, the opportunity to play more and be in more situations," Ladd said during a media conference call. "It seems like it's going in the right direction for me.

"It's kind of nice to have this over with and now can start focusing on moving on."

Ladd could have filed for salary arbitration Tuesday, which could have led to him signing a one-year deal with an eye on becoming an unrestricted free agent.

He says that was never given serious consideration, though.

"You know it's there and unrestricted free agency is a big thing for a player," he said. "But looking at the big picture I was in a great situation with the organization in terms of my role with the team was a good one. It never really crossed my mind to go that route. I wanted to get a long-term deal done all along."

But after spending the first six years of his career in Carolina, Chicago and Atlanta, Ladd says he's looking forward to staying put for a while.

The same can probably be said for Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur, who avoided salary arbitration by signing a two-year, $6.5 million contract. The 26-year-old set career highs in goals (21), assists (41) and points (62) last season after splitting the previous season with Buffalo and Atlanta.

The Leafs also re-signed restricted free agent Tyler Bozak, giving the young forward a two-year contract.

The Ottawa Senators toughened up by signing two-time penalty minute king Zenon Konopka to a one-year, $700,000 contract. Konopka, a 30-year-old who had two goals, seven assists and 307 penalty minutes, was a junior star in Ottawa from 1998-2002.

The Minnesota Wild signed forward Darroll Powe, acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers June 27, to a three-year, $3.2 million contract. Powe had seven goals and 10 assists in 81 games with the Flyers.

Edmonton Oilers castoff Zack Stortini landed with the Nashville Predators. The scrappy forward signed for one year and $550,000.

QUICK HITS: The St. Louis Blues signed forward Scott Nichol and goalie Ben Bishop to one-year deals. Nichol had four goals and three assists in 56 games with San Jose last season while Bishop was with Peoria of the AHL ... Goaltender Nathan Lawson, who made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders last season, signed a one-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens. The habs also signed goalie Peter Delmas, who split last season between Hamilton of the AHL and Wheeling of the ECHL ... Minor-league forward Trevor Smith signed a one-year pact with the Tampa Bay Lightning ... The Columbus Blue Jackets added some depth on the back end by inking Aaron Johnson to a one-year deal. Johnson has played 225 career NHL games ... Boston signed a pair of minor-league forwards to new contracts. Jamie Tardif got a two-year deal and Josh Hennessey a one-year pact ... The Wild signed former Mr. Hockey Minnesota Jeff Taffe to a one-year contract. Taffe starred at the University of Minnesota ... The Pittsburgh Penguins signed defenceman Alexandre Picard and goalie Brad Thiessen to one-year contracts. Picard has played in 236 NHL games with five teams.


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