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7/20/2006 12:32:46 PM

The Atlanta Thrashers have signed restricted free agent centre Niko Kapanen to a multiple-year contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Kapanen, 28, was acquired by the Thrashers from Dallas with a seventh-round choice in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft (Will O'Neill) in exchange for Patrik Stefan and Jaroslav Modry last month.

Kapanen has appeared in 239 NHL games with the Stars over four seasons, recording 76 points. The 5-9, 180-pound centre has also played in 18 career playoff games for Dallas, totaling nine points.

The native of Hameenlinna, Finland, tallied 35 points in 81 games with Dallas last season. He set career highs in goals, points, power play goals, game-winning goals and shorthanded goals, which also led the team. In five playoff games with the Stars, he recorded one assist.

Originally selected by the Stars in the sixth round, 173rd overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Kapanen spent the 2001-02 season between Dallas and Utah (AHL), where he played nine games for the Stars and 59 games for the Grizzlies. During his rookie NHL season of 2002-03, he recorded 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 82 games and led league rookies in assists and plus/minus rating (+25). That season he played in the NHL Topps/Youngstars Game during All-Star Weekend in Florida.

Kapanen won a Silver Medal with Finland at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy, scoring three points (two goals, one assist) in eight games. He was earned a Silver Medal at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, in which he tallied three points (one goal, two assists) in six games.
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