The 27-year-old Hamhuis has spent his entire NHL career in Nashville, posting 32 goals and 161 in 483 games. He had five goals and 24 points last season with the Predators, who traded his negotiating rights to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Ryan Parent on June 19.
The Flyers then traded him last week to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a third-round draft pick in 2011, but Hamhuis tested the open market.
Hamhuis chose the Canucks in part because it gives him a chance to play close to home. He grew up in Smithers, a small town located 700 miles north of Vancouver, and played his junior hockey in Prince George, another town in the northern interior of British Columbia.
He said he took less money for the chance to be near home.
"We did some get some different offers and some were higher in contract value but we like the fit in Vancouver," Hamhuis said. "We liked the opportunity from a hockey perspective and a lifestyle perspective for my family."
A solid two-way defender, Hamhuis has also been durable. He has played at least 78 games each season with the Predators, making him a welcome addition to the Canucks, whose defense has been decimated by injury the last two seasons.
The move also gives the Canucks a surplus of quality, well-paid defensemen.
"We're trying to compete for a Stanley Cup and, ultimately, players do have to [sign for less] if they do want to be in that realm," general manager Mike Gillis said. "We were thrilled that he was prepared to do that and looked at our team as a contending team and was prepared to come here for less money. It was a really good thing for us."
Vancouver acquired top-four defenseman Keith Ballard as part of a five-player trade with the Florida Panthers at the draft last week and now has eight NHL-caliber defensemen under contract, plus restricted free agent Shane O'Brien.
Ballard is under contract for the next five seasons at $4.2 million a year and Edler for the next three at $3.25 million per season. But Salo ($3.5 million), Ehrhoff ($3.1 million) and Bieksa ($3.75 million) are going into the final year of their contracts and are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.
Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and The Associated Press was used in this report.