BOSTON – The Boston Bruins have named former NHL defenseman and longtime Buffalo Sabres executive Jim Benning their director of player personnel, the team announced Tuesday.

The team also announced that 15-year NHL veteran Doug Houda has been named assistant coach, and Wayne Smith has been hired as a regional scout.

Benning, 43, spent the last nine years as the Sabres director of amateur scouting. Benning was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs as the sixth overall pick in the 1981 draft. He played nine seasons in the NHL, for Toronto and Vancouver.

Houda, 40, has been an assistant coach the last three seasons with the Rochester Americans, Buffalo’s American Hockey League affiliate. Houda’s 15-year NHL career as a defenseman included stops in Buffalo, Detroit, Hartford, the New York Islanders, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

Smith spent the last seven seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets as a regional scout covering Ontario and Quebec.

Canucks sign Bulis to one-year deal

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Vancouver Canucks signed free agent forward Jan Bulis to a one-year, $1.3 million contract on Tuesday.

Bulis scored a career-best 20 goals last season and matched his highest single-season point total with 40 while playing for the Montreal Canadiens. He is a strong two-way forward with the ability to play either center or on the wing,

Oilers avoid arbitration with Hemsky

EDMONTON, Alberta – Oilers leading scorer Ales Hemsky avoided a salary arbitration hearing by signing a six-year deal worth $24.6 million with Edmonton on Tuesday.

Hemsky, a 22-year-old native of the Czech Republic, had a career-high 19 goals and 58 assists for a team-high 77 points in 81 games last season. He also had six goals and 11 assists in 24 playoff games to help the Oilers get within one win of the Stanley Cup championship.

Belfour signs one-year deal with Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. – Ed Belfour, whose 457 victories rank second on the NHL list, signed a one-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and likely will be the backup goalie to newly acquired Alex Auld.

The 41-year-old Belfour spent the last three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs and went 22-22 with a 3.29 goals against average during the 2005-06 campaign.

The five-time All-Star helped lead the Dallas Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup championship.

Penguins sign Recchi for third time

PITTSBURGH – Mark Recchi returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third time in his career.

Recchi played 63 games for the Penguins last season, scoring 24 goals and 33 assists, before he was traded to the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.

He became a free agent when the Hurricanes opted not to pick up a one-year option on his contract for $2.28 million, and signed with the Penguins for that amount on Tuesday.

Predators goalie Vokoun cleared to play

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Nashville Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun was cleared by doctors to return to the team following a late-season health problem that forced him to miss the playoffs.

Vokoun was diagnosed in April with pelvic thrombophlebitis, a rare blood condition that caused blood clots in his abdomen.


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