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Brian Savage #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates with the puck trailed by Sergei Gonchar #55 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wachovia Center April 11, 2006 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Penguins 4-3. (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images) (Len Redkoles/2006 Getty Images)
Brian Savage #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates with the puck trailed by Sergei Gonchar #55 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wachovia Center April 11, 2006 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Penguins 4-3. (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images) (Len Redkoles/2006 Getty Images)

Senators sign Gonchar to 3-year deal Add to ...

Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray made the biggest splash out of the gate when the NHL's annual free-agent auction began Thursday, landing defenceman Sergei Gonchar.

Murray got one of the best offensive defencemen in the NHL by giving Gonchar, 36, the third year in a contract that his old team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, refused to do. Gonchar signed for three years at $5.5-million (all currency U.S.) per year and the deal includes a no-trade clause.

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This gives the Senators the elite, puck-moving defenceman they have lacked since Wade Redden was an effective player. This will tighten up the Northeast Division and puts more pressure on Buffalo Sabres GM Darcy Regier to fix his defence since both Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder became free agents.

"I'm very happy to be there because I'm going to play in Canada, which is pretty special for me," said Gonchar. "I believe Ottawa has a pretty good team. We played against them last year in the playoffs and it's not easy to play against that team."

Gonchar had 11 goals and 39 assists for the Pens last season and has registered 50 points or more in nine of the last 10 seasons.

Murray also wrapped up restricted free agent forward Jesse Winchester. He signed for two years at $750,000 per year.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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