Agent says deal worth $21 million

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks re-signed captain and leading scorer Markus Naslund on Wednesday, giving him a three-year contract worth $18 million.

Markus Naslund Naslund

The unrestricted free agent, who turned 32 on Saturday, reportedly turned down three-year, $18-million offers from two other teams to remain in Vancouver, where he has played the last nine seasons.

He was also rumored to be shopping his services in a package deal with fellow free agent and boyhood friend Peter Forsberg, who was born 10 days earlier and grew up 10 miles away in their native Ornskoldsvik, Sweden.

"It was really the only choice for me and my family," Naslund said during a conference call Wednesday. "We've had the best years of our lives here and I'm very happy to hopefully retire as a Canuck."

The Canucks were busy Wednesday, also trading defenseman Brent Sopel to the New York Islanders for a conditional draft pick in 2006.

But Naslund was the story of the day in Vancouver. He spent last season with Modo of the Swedish league after tallying 35 goals and 49 assists during the 2003-04 season for the Canucks.

He was acquired from Pittsburgh on March 20, 1996, and won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL's most outstanding player -- as voted by his peers -- in 2002-03 after finishing second in scoring with 104 points, including 48 goals.

"At the end of the day, I think the fact that we wanted Markus Naslund in Vancouver, and more importantly that Markus Naslund wanted to be in Vancouver, put us in a position where we were able to sign him," general manager Dave Nonis said. "It's a win-win for everybody and we're absolutely thrilled to have Markus Naslund back for at least three more years in Vancouver."

Originally picked by Pittsburgh 16th overall in the 1991 draft, Naslund has bloomed into one the NHL's top left wingers. He has scored 164 goals over the last four seasons, more than any other player in the league.

The 28-year-old Sopel had career highs with 10 goals and 32 assists in 2003-04 with the Canucks. He has one year left on his deal, that will pay him $1.59 million this season, and he can qualify for unrestricted free agency next summer.

"Brent is a polished defenseman just entering the prime of his
career after improving in his development with each season in
Vancouver," Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said. "Our
scouts feel strongly that, like Alexei Zhitnik and Janne Niinimaa,
Brent will excel under the new rules changes."

New York signed Zhitnik away from the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.