The Montreal Canadiens were busy on the opening day of NHL free agency.
The Canadiens acquired defenseman Tom Gilbert and center Manny Malhotra and traded Josh Gorges to the Sabres on Tuesday.
General manager Marc Bergevin also signed Czech prospect Jiri Sekac and re-signed free agent defenseman Mike Weaver.
The Canadiens also saw captain Brian Gionta leave as an unrestricted free agent for Buffalo on a three-year contract, as well as Thomas Vanek, a playoff run acquisition who signed with the Wild.
The moves come a day after the Canadiens acquired forward P.A. Parenteau from Colorado for veteran Danny Briere.
Bergevin had said after the Canadiens were eliminated in the Eastern Conference final that the team’s leadership had shifted to younger players such as P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, Carey Price, and Brandan Gallagher.
The surprise move involved Gorges, who has been a part of the Montreal defense since 2006 who used his limited no-trade clause over the weekend to reject a move to Toronto.
Bergevin was looking to move Gorges’s contract, which had been signed with the previous management and has another four seasons at $3.9 million per year.
He reportedly made a bid to keep Gionta, but at a much reduced salary.
The Rochester, N.Y., native ended up signing with Buffalo for three years at $4.2 million per season.
Gorges’s place on the right side of the defense will likely be taken by Gilbert, an unrestricted free agent who signed a two-year deal worth $2.8 million.
Wild sign Vanek
Vanek, who has scored at least 20 goals each of his nine seasons in thr NHL, agreed to a three-year, $19.5 million contract with the Wild shortly after free agency officially began.
The left wing will get a chance to settle in after playing for three teams (Sabres, Islanders, Canadiens) last season.
‘‘To be a part of the Wild now and go after the big prize and having a chance to do it in Minnesota is beyond my wildest dreams,’’ Vanek said.
Vanek has 277 goals in 663 games, the type of potentially prolific scorer the Wild could use to supplement an attack led by Parise, Jason Pominville, Charlie Coyle, Mikko Koivu, and Mikael Granlund.
Capitals raid rivals
Moving swiftly to give Alex Ovechkin help at the defensive end while raiding a rival, new Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan signed Penguins free agents Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik to deals totaling more than $65 million.
The 27-year-old Niskanen, the more offensive-minded of the pair of defensemen joining the Capitals, got a $40.25 million, seven-year contract.
The 33-year-old Orpik, more of a stay-at-home blue liner who had spent his entire career with the Penguins, was given a $27.5 million, five-year package.
And in one more Penguins-to-Capitals transaction: Washington signed right wing Chris Conner to a one-year, two-way contract. He has 22 goals and 28 assists in 178 NHL games, including 19 with Pittsburgh last season.
Stastny comes home
The Blues lured Paul Stastny away from Colorado, signing the veteran center to a four-year, $28 million deal.
Stastny has spent his entire career with the Avalanche after being picked in the second round of the 2005 draft.
He thrived under first-year coach Patrick Roy last season, scoring 25 goals as he helped the Avalanche overtake St. Louis for the Central Division crown and into the postseason for the first time since 2009-10.
The 28-year-old Stastny is a St. Louis native. His father, Hall of Famer Peter Stastny, and brother, Yan Stastny, are former Blues players.
Canucks nab Miller
The Canucks acquired a starting goaltender, signing Ryan Miller to a three-year deal worth $18 million.
The Canucks needed a proven goalie after trading Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo in the past 13 months and missing the playoffs this past season. Miller was seen as the best goalie on the market.
Spezza joins Hemsky
Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky are going to find out if what they started in Ottawa can lead to something special in Dallas.
Briefly teammates with the Senators last season, both forwards were acquired by the Stars — Spezza in a trade just before free agency opened and Hemsky on a three-year contract after deals could be done.
The Senators traded their captain to the Stars for forward Alex Chiasson, prospects Alex Guptill and Nicholas Paul, and a second-round pick in next year’s draft. Dallas also receives forward Ludwig Karlsson.
Panthers spend big
The Panthers got a little bit of everything: Scoring, toughness, goaltending, and someone whose fingerprints just happened to be on the Stanley Cup a couple weeks ago.
At day’s end, it was $60 million spent on about six players. And that might be a small price to pay if the franchise’s fortunes wind up turning around.
The Panthers wasted no time to get deals done, signing four forwards, a defenseman, and a goaltender. Centers Dave Bolland and Jussi Jokinen were the costliest additions, with Bolland getting a five-year deal worth $27.5 million and Jokinen agreeing to a four-year pact worth $16 million.
Jokinen had 21 goals and 36 assists for 57 points with Pittsburgh last season — which would have made him Florida’s top scorer by a wide margin.
Willie Mitchell, a two-time Cup-winning defenseman with the Kings, signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal.
Left wing Shawn Thornton — a proven enforcer with the Bruins — agreed to a $2.4 million, two-year deal, while center Derek MacKenzie got a three-year, $3.9 million deal. MacKenzie had been with Columbus since 2007.