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Carolina Hurricanes right wing Erik Cole (26) and Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Mark Stuart (5) battle for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, April 8, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

John Amis

The Montreal Canadiens have signed free agent forward Eric Cole from the Carolina Hurricanes and goaltender Peter Budaj from the Colorado Avalanche.

Cole signed a $18-million, four-year deal and 28-year-old Budaj inked a $2.3-million, two-year contract.

Cole earned $3-million last season with the Hurricanes.

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The Canadiens back-up goalie last season, Alex Auld, signed as a free agent with Ottawa.

The 32-year-old Cole gives the Canadiens the big winger with a scoring touch they were seeking on the free agent market.

The six-foot-two, 205-pound winger had 26 goals and 26 assists in 82 games last season. He has 184 goals and 204 assists in 620 career games.

He was a teammate of Canadiens forwards Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta on the U.S. Olympic team at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

Later that season, he suffered a fractured vertebra in his neck from a hit by Pittsburgh's Brooks Orpik and returned in Game 6 of the final as the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup.

Budaj posted weak numbers in 45 games for Colorado last season with a 15-21-4 record on a weak team, with a 3.20 goals-against average and .895 save percentage. In 242 games over six seasons, he is 101-91-27 with a 2.83 average and a .902 save percentage.

In four career playoff games, he has a whopping 6.67 goals-against and a .750 save percentage.

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However, he got positive response from his new teamate Mathieu Darche, who wrote on Twitter that Budaj is a "great guy and a very good goalie."

His former Avs teammate John-Michael Liles tweeted: "MTL is getting a fantastic player and teammate."

Colorado made the deal after they obtained goalie Semyon Varlamov from Washington for a first and a second-round draft pick.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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