The National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks have signed Russian goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year deal worth $27 million.

Khabibulin was last in the net for the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. In the last NHL action before the 2004-05 season was canceled in a labor dispute, the 32-year-old goalie posted a playoff record of 16 wins and seven losses. He had a league best five shut-out victories en route to the 2003-04 championship.

Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators have made the most significant free agent acquisition of their short history by signing forward Paul Kariya to a two-year contract worth nine-million dollars. The first NHL playmaker of Japanese ancestry, Kariya chose to sign with Nashville because the team had been committed to signing him since the free agency period opened.

The 30-year-old spent his first nine seasons with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He helped lead them to the 2003 Stanley Cup finals before moving to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2003-2004 season. The seven-time NHL All-Star also helped the Canadian national hockey team win the 2002 Olympic gold medal in Salt Lake City and the 1994 silver medal in Lillehammer.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.