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The Globe and Mail

Canadiens new GM Bergevin signs free agents Armstrong, Prust and Bouillon

Toronto Maple Leafs' Colby Armstrong (9) drives the puck down ice ahead of New York Islanders' Radek Martinek (24), of the Czech Republic, during the third period of an NHL game, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in Uniondale, N.Y.

Kathy Kmonicek/AP

Marc Bergevin was a busy man on his first foray into NHL free agency as a general manager, signing three gritty players for the Montreal Canadiens.

Bergevin reportedly signed rugged left-winger Brandon Prust from the New York Rangers to a US$10-million, four-year contract, right-winger Colby Armstrong from the Toronto Maple Leafs to a $1-million, one-year deal and also brought back veteran defenceman Francis Bouillon from the Nashville Predators for $1 million over one year.

The Canadiens did not immediately confirm the signings, although Armstrong announced his contract himself on Twitter and both Prust and Bouillon spoke about their new deals with various media.

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A team spokesman said Bergevin was still working on deals and would not talk to the media until Monday.

The Canadiens were looking to add toughness to their checking lines and an extra defenceman, and that's what they got.

They may also be seeking a forward for their top two lines, amid speculation they may be interested in former Pittsburgh star Jaromir Jagr.

The six-foot, 195-pound Prust played in all 82 games the last two seasons in New York. His production dipped from 13 goals and 29 points two years ago to five goals and 12 assists last year.

The 28-year-old former London Knight is going into his fifth NHL season. He was drafted 70th overall in 2004.

Both Armstrong and Bouillon have a history with new Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, who coached Bouillon in junior hockey in Laval and Granby as well as during his first stint as Canadiens coach a decade ago. Therrien had Armstrong with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The six-foot-two, 187-pound Armstrong, a pesky, physical forward, became a free agent when the final year of his contract was bought out by the Leafs. He will actually earn $2 million next season, with half paid by Toronto.

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The 29-year-old Armstrong broke into the NHL with the Penguins in 2005-06 and played in Atlanta before joining the Leafs two seasons ago. His time in Toronto was marked by injuries as he played only 29 games last season, picking up a goal and a two assists and was minus-8.

The five-foot-eight, 201-pound Bouillon, a Montreal native, is deceptively strong and can play a physical game. The 36-year-old played his first 10 seasons with the Canadiens before moving to the Predators in 2009, appearing in 66 games last season with four goals and seven assists.

In the days leading up to the opening of the free agent market, Bergevin signed some potential free agents, including tough checking forwards Travis Moen and Ryan White, depth centre Petteri Nokelainen and defenceman Alexei Emelin.

He is working on new deals for a handful of restricted free agents, including goaltender Carey Price and defenceman P.K. Subban.

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