Flats decides to stay put

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

Wade Flaherty decided the grass was green enough.

With unrestricted free agency hours away, the Manitoba Moose's most valuable player decided against testing the market and agreed to a one-year contract with the parent Vancouver Canucks late Friday night.

Flaherty, who posted a 26-16-4 record with a 2.40 goals against average and a league-best six shutouts, signed a two-way deal that pays him the league minimum at the NHL level ($450,000 US).

"I was pretty close to going to free agency, but I'm happy to get this out of the way," said Flaherty, who probably would have spent much of last season in the NHL were it not for the re-entry waivers rule which has since been modified.

During the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver last weekend, Canucks general manager Dave Nonis said he was still interested in bringing back Flaherty and made good on his word.

Although the Canucks still have Dan Cloutier, who is on the trading block, and restricted free agent Mika Noronen (who has received his qualifying offer), Flaherty could push for the backup job behind newly acquired Roberto Luongo, who is expected to play 70-plus games this season.

Flaherty, 38, is familiar with Luongo's workload, having served as his backup with the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers.

"He's a really good guy," said Flaherty, who spent the past two seasons with the Moose after leading the Milwaukee Admirals to the Calder Cup in 2004. "What surprises me is that he got traded."

While the Canucks were busy adding to their goaltending depth, they were saying goodbye to a couple of defenceman.

Along with Ed Jovanovski signing with the Phoenix Coyotes, former Moose captain Nolan Baumgartner inked a multi-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Baumgartner, who had five goals and 34 points in 70 games with the Canucks last season, spoke with GM Bobby Clarke and head coach Ken Hitchcock on Saturday.

"I was pretty surprised," Baumgartner, who lives in Winnipeg during the off-season, said yesterday from Calgary. "They called about five minutes after free agency opened and made an offer right away. It's going to be a good spot to play."

Baumgartner, 30, joins Lyleton, Man., product Marty Murray, who recently signed with the Flyers. Murray spent last season playing in Germany, where he had seven goals and 22 points in 24 points with Hannover of the DEL.

Murray, 31, has 31 goals and 71 points in 242 career NHL games.


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