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'Canes re-sign Wesley, Flames re-sign Lombardi, Leafs ink Oreskovic

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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'Canes re-sign Wesley, Flames re-sign Lombardi, Leafs ink Oreskovic

The Canadian Press
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Wesley agreed to a US$1.4-million, one-year deal with the Hurricanes on Friday that will see him return for his 12th season with the franchise and 19th overall.

"Obviously the fire and the passion is still there and I think that's the biggest part of it for me," the 38-year-old Wesley said. "I think we've got a great core group of guys that can look at doing it again, and that's first and foremost what we want to strive for this year."

Keeping Wesley brings back two decades of NHL experience for the Hurricanes, who missed the playoffs this season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. Carolina president and general manager Jim Rutherford called Wesley "a steadying force on our blue-line."

"His leadership is important to the fabric of our dressing room and we are glad he is returning to play another season," Rutherford said.

The Flames signed Lombardi to a US$5.45-million, three-year deal after a breakout year.

Lombardi registered career highs in goals (20), assists (26) and points while playing in 81 games this season. The 25-year-old, who agreed to a three-year extension, had a goal and an assist in six playoff games against Detroit.

In 215 career NHL regular-season games, Lombardi has 42 goals and 59 assists.

The Flames have also re-signed forward Marcus Nilson to a two-year deal.

Nilson, an eight-year NHL veteran, had five goals and 10 assists in 63 games this season. In 474 career NHL regular season games, the Swede has recorded 163 points (64-99).

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed hulking defenceman Phil Oreskovic to a three-year entry-level deal.

The six-foot-three, 225-pounder split last season between the Brampton Battalion and the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League, collecting 22 points (3-19) and 179 penalty minutes in 62 games.

Following Owen Sound's playoff exit, the former second-round pick (82nd overall) played in three games for the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies, registering an assist.

In other moves Friday:

- The Washington Capitals signed goalie Michal Neuvirth to a three-year entry-level deal. Neuvirth, 19, was a second-round pick (34th overall) by the Capitals in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Neuvirth spent this season with the Ontario Hockey League's Plymouth Whalers, compiling a 26-8-2-2 record with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.

-The Colorado Avalanche signed forward Jaroslav Hlinka to a one-year deal. The 30-year-old has played most of his career in the Czech Republic. He was a member of the Czech team that won silver at the 2006 IIHF World Championship.

-The Nashville Predators signed forwards Patric Hornqvist, Antti Pihlstrom and Oliver Setzinger and defencemen Janne Niskala, Richard Stehlik and Alexander Sulzer.

Wesley considered retiring after the Hurricanes won the Cup last season, which came in his fourth trip to the final, before signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract in July. He had one goal and 12 assists while ranking second on the team with 103 blocked shots in 68 games last season, but he missed the last six games with a foot injury.

"Not being able to contribute was very frustrating," he said. "That's not the way you want to finish the year in any circumstance. Missing the playoffs even though we went through the injuries and guys having off years, it brings us back to be more motivated as a group."

The six-foot-one, 205-pounder has 127 goals and 402 assists in 1,379 career NHL games with Toronto, Boston and Carolina. He has 52 points (15-37) in 169 career playoff games.

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'Canes re-sign Wesley, Flames re-sign Lombardi, Leafs ink Oreskovic