NHL Notes: Buffalo Sabres Sign Free-agent Forward Kyle Okposo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A person with direct knowledge of the deal tells The Associated Press that the Buffalo Sabres have reached an agreement to sign forward Kyle Okposo, one of the top players available on the NHL's free-agent market.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres have not announced the agreement with the former New York Islanders forward in a move reached shortly after the signing period began on Friday.

The 28-year-old Okposo has eight-plus seasons of NHL experience and is a three-time 20-goal-scorer. Last year, he finished third on the Islanders with 22 goals, and second with 64 points.

In Buffalo, Okposo immediately becomes a top-line forward on a team that has spent the past two years rebuilding through youth.

Red Wings: Team signs Nielsen, re-signs Helm and Marchenko
DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings tried to address the departure of Pavel Datsyuk, agreeing with Frans Nielsen to a six-year, $31.5 million contract Friday in the opening hours of free agency.

"He's a centerman we needed after losing one in Pavel Datsyuk," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told The Associated Press. "We think he can play 200 feet, in all situations, including penalty killing and on the power play."

Nielsen averaged 51 points over the last three years with the New York Islanders. The 32-year-old Nielsen, who is from Denmark, has scored 119 goals and added 230 assists over his decade in the NHL.

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Forward Darren Helm and defenseman Alexey Marchenko agreed to deals with Detroit to stay with the team just before they would have been available on the market.

The Red Wings retained Helm with a five-year contract, counting $3.85 million against the salary cap each season. Helm had 13 goals and 26 points last season. He has 72 goals and 90 assists since making his debut during the 2007-08 season.

The Red Wings are also keeping Marchenko for two more seasons, taking $1.45 million off their cap each year. Marchenko is coming off his first full season in the NHL. The Russian played in 66 games last season, scoring twice and adding nine assists (see full story).

Lightning: Hedman, Vasilevskiy sign extensions
The Tampa Bay Lightning signed defenseman Victor Hedman to a $63 million, eight-year extension Friday and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to a $10.5 million, three-year extension.

The deals come on the heels of the Lightning signing captain Steven Stamkos to a $68 million, eight-year contract.

Hedman will count $7.875 million against the salary cap when the deal begins in the 2017-18 season. 

The 6-foot-6, 223-pound Hedman was in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP when Tampa Bay lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

In 473 NHL games, the 25-year-old has 49 goals and 180 assists. Last season he had 10 goals and 37 assists.

Vasilevskiy will count $3.5 million against the cap when his extension kicks in for the 2017-18 season. The contract could mean the end of Ben Bishop's time in Tampa Bay at least by the end of next season when the Las Vegas expansion draft occurs.

General manager Steve Yzerman has said he'll have to trade one of his goalies before June 2017 to avoid one of them being claimed.

Sharks: Defenseman David Schlemko signs four-year deal
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- When the free agency period opened, the top priority for the San Jose Sharks was upgrading their blue line with a player capable of filling a hole on the third pair and playing many different roles.

General manager Doug Wilson struck quickly on Friday, signing free agent defenseman David Schlemko to a four-year contract worth a reported $8.4 million.

"His versatility is really important," Wilson said. "He can play on left or right side, can play on the power play and the PK. He just fits with where we're at and where we're going."

Schlemko will likely slot in alongside Brenden Dillon on the third pair but his ability to play both sides gives San Jose the versatility to play with Dylan DeMelo or move up to one of the top two pairs if needed.

"That was a big thing for them," Schlemko said. "I can be a versatile player, move up and down the lineup and play against anybody and play in any situation. That's how I feel about myself as a player and was glad that they saw that. I'm kind of lucky that a Stanley Cup contender wanted me."

The 29-year-old Schlemko posted career highs with six goals and 13 assists in 67 games for New Jersey last season. He also played more than 18 minutes a game (see full story).

Blues: David Perron signs 2-year deal, $7.5 million
The agent for David Perron says the winger has signed a $7.5 million, two-year deal with the St. Louis Blues.

Allan Walsh told The Associated Press that Perron signed the deal that carries a cap hit of $3.75 million over the next two seasons.

Perron spent last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks, and had 12 goals and 24 assists. He's returning to St. Louis, which drafted him 26th overall in 2007.

In 570 NHL games, Perron has 141 goals and 191 assists.

Perron helps replace right wing Troy Brouwer, who became an unrestricted free agent.

Stars: Veteran Hamhuis added to blue line
DALLAS -- The Stars signed defenseman Dan Hamhuis to a two-year, $7.5 million contract in the opening hours of free agency Friday, providing another veteran to a strong young group on the blue line.

The 33-year-old Hamhuis has split his 12-year career in two places, first with six seasons in Nashville and then six more in Vancouver. He has 303 points (55 goals, 248 assists) in 872 career games.

Hamhuis joins Dallas as it appears set to replace two veterans at the blue line (see full story).

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