Slim pickings after busy start to NHL free agency

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For others, it was the lure of finding the right fit.

Horton was willing to give up big-city living in Boston, for the chance to raise his family in a more collegiate environment such as Columbus.

“It’s a great opportunity for me and my family to be in a house and for it to be a little more quiet,” Horton said, while noting he is also eager to help transform the Blue Jackets into contenders. “I want to be in the playoffs and everybody else does (here), and we’ve got the team to do it. That’s why I’m so excited.”

The Toronto Maple Leafs, coming off their first postseason appearance since 2004, also made a statement by signing Clarkson and keeping first-line center Tyler Bozak with a $21 million, five-year deal.

Tampa Bay reached a $25 million, five-year deal with 29-year-old center Valtteri Filppula to essentially replace Lecavalier.

Ottawa wasn’t expecting Alfredsson to bolt.

“It was a devastating conversation, a disappointing one, hard to swallow,” Senators general manager Bryan Murray acknowledged. “But I understand a veteran player that hasn’t won and wants to win and sees a better opportunity.”

The Senators, though, got younger and perhaps better up front by acquiring Ryan. Ottawa sent forwards Jakob Silfverbeg, Stefan Noesen and its first-round pick in next year’s draft to the Ducks for the four-time 30-goal scorer.

A lot of other teams also made moves to jockey for position in the parity-filled league:

_The Phoenix Coyotes, with a new owner, signed forward Mike Ribeiro to a four-year, $22 million contract.

_The New Jersey Devils signed forward Ryane Clowe to a five-year, $24.25 million contract, and forward Michael Ryder to a two-year, $7 million deal.

_The Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks re-signed defenseman Michal Rozsival, forward Michal Handzus and gave 40-year goalie Nikolai Khabibulin a one-year deal to replace Emery.

_The Pittsburgh Penguins reunited with defenseman Rob Scuderi by giving him a four-year $13.5 million deal.

_The New York Islanders re-signed goalie Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year, $3.25 million deal and defenseman Travis Hamonic to a seven-year, $27 million contract, and signed free-agent forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard to a one-year, $2 million contract.

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