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VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Canucks acquired a starting goaltender Tuesday, signing Ryan Miller to a three-year deal worth $18 million on the first day of free agency this year.

The Canucks needed a proven goalie after trading Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo in the past 13 months and missing the playoffs last season. Miller was viewed as the best goalie on the free-agent market.

“I felt it was important to get a goalie with experience,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. “Over the years, he’s played a lot of games. He gives us that experience that we need.”

Benning is familiar with the 33-year-old Miller, having worked in Buffalo’s scouting department when the Sabres drafted the player in 1999. The St. Louis Blues acquired Miller from Buffalo in February.

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Miller was 25-30-4 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .918 save percentage last season.

“I think I’m still developing into the best player I can be,” he said. “I take that part of hockey seriously, finding new things to add to my game and taking consideration and coaching from other people.”

Paul Stastny and Jarome Iginla are among the other free agents who found new homes.

Stastny signed a $28 million, four-year contract with the St. Louis Blues, leaving the Central Division rival Colorado Avalanche.

“It’s a tough decision, (but) I was in a good position,” Stastny, a St. Louis native, told the Blues’ website. “You almost have to take a step back and take all the emotions out of it and try to realize what’s best for me hockeywise. Not just next year, but two or three or four years down the road.”

The Avs found someone to score in Stastny’s place, picking up an aging player who has proved he has still got it.

Iginla was given a three-year, $16 million deal on his 37th birthday. He had 30 goals to tie for the most by a Boston Bruin last season.

The Washington Capitals also made a big splash — or at least spent the most money on two players.

The Caps bolstered the blue line behind superstar forward Alex Ovechkin and gave defense-minded coach Barry Trotz the pieces he sought to build a winner. Washington signed defenseman Matt Niskanen to a seven-year, $40.25 million contract soon after sealing a $27.5 million, five-year deal with defenseman Brooks Orpik. Both spent last season with Pittsburgh, a Metropolitan Division rival.

Pittsburgh signed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, forward Blake Comeau and goaltender Thomas Greiss to one-year deals.

The Minnesota Wild signed forward Thomas Vanek to a $19.5 million, three-year deal.

Dallas got a jump on the competition shortly before free agency began, acquiring forward Jason Spezza in a trade with Ottawa.

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