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Van Riemsdyk, Cullen among free agents joining former teams

John Tavares is not the only free agent who returns to a familiar place.

Several players are returning to their previous teams and comfortable situations: from James van Riemsdyk returning to Philadelphia in the second richest contract on July 1. Matt Cullen received a significant salary cut to meet with the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped win the Stanley Cup twice. It's not exactly the pull on the heart fibers that led Tavares to sign a $ 77 million deal for seven years with his Toronto Maple Leafs adolescence, but familiarity was part of the bustle of the first day of free agency. NHL

that comfort with knowing a lot about the organization that played there in the past and with many familiar faces still on staff and things like that, "said van Riemsdyk after signing a five-year, $ 35 million contract with the Flyers. "Remembering just my previous time is the bad thing that they obviously want to win and they are willing to put resources into that. That passion and commitment to that was a big thing for me. "

I'm not sure there is" After his old team re-signed Riley Sheahan, Cullen signed a $ 650,000 contract for a year with the Penguins. after spending a season in Minnesota. Tomas Plekanec was out of Montreal for a few months, signing a one-year contract loaded with $ 2.25 million bonuses with the Canadians after they changed him to rival Maple Leafs on the deadline.

Plekanec had planned since the end of the season to return to Montreal, where his family stayed when he went to Toronto. He will return to the Bell Center with a contract that can be worth another $ 1.25 million in incentives. The 35-year-old will play his 1,000th regular-season game with his blue, white and red family uniform this October.

While Plekanec obviously felt a strong connection to Montreal after 14 seasons there, David Perron was playing for St. Louis Blues for the third time in his career in the NHL after signing for $ 16 million over four years. Perron spent his first six seasons with the Blues after being drafted in the first round in 2007, returned as a free agent two years ago, was chosen by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft a year ago and is back after establishing career highs with 50 assists and 66 points in Las Vegas.

Thomas Vanek enjoyed his 48 games with the Detroit Red Wings in 2016-17 so much that he wanted to sign with them last July but they did not have enough salary space. When this opportunity was presented this time, the 34-year-old end focused on a one-year contract and chose Detroit's $ 3 million offer for some other options.

"I loved it," said Vanek. "It was very good, I liked the whole culture of the organization and the guys were great, we tried to make it work last year, it did not work, so I'm happy it was like that." [19659009] Nobody says that hockey players can not go home, but there has to be a mutual interest. It was simple for the Penguins, who lacked something without Cullen in their second-round loss to eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Pittsburgh had tried to buy back the 41-year-old center on the change deadline.

It was a bit more complicated for the Flyers, who switched van Riemsdyk to Toronto in 2012 in a one-on-one deal for defender Lucas. Schenn That was under a previous regime that believed the 6-foot-3, 217-pound left end was not strong enough, but general manager Ron Hextall sees a player check the boxes for a playoff contender with some holes. .

"We felt with the attack that we needed something of size," Hextall said. "We needed to score goals, we need a left winger, it just fits in and I think James felt the same way."

Personality adjustment was also there, because Flyers management knew van Riemsdyk, who is 29. Passing through the Philadelphia system, the second general election in 2007 helped Hextall to want to make his biggest role of free agent.

"We know the person, people within this organization, (obviously) who help", Hextall

Van Riemsdyk did his homework talking to Captain Claude Giroux, the Jakub Voracek end and the recent Flyers players before of choosing to return to their first NHL organization. He also fondly remembered the career of the Flyers in the Cup final in 2010.

"I hope to have the opportunity to do something like that in the future," he said.


Follow hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SWhyno


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