Center Andrew Cassels signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Cassels, who turns 30 on July 23, was paid $1.2 million last year while scoring 12 goals and 37 points in 70 games for the Calgary Flames.
Cassels, who played six seasons with the Hartford Whalers, said escalating salaries can cripple small-market teams.
"It is sad in a way when a team can spend more money and take the better players and make everybody's price go up," he said during a conference call. "Obviously it's hurting the Canadian teams more than the American teams but I don't think you can blame a player when somebody offers you a certain amount of money. They won't say `no, I don't want that much. Give me less if it's going to help you out."'
Money wasn't the only factor in Cassels' decision. Canucks general manager Brian Burke was Hartford's GM during the 1992-93 season when Cassels had his best year, with 21 goals and collecting 85 points.
Cassels was Montreal's first-round draft choice, 17th overall, in 1987. He played 60 games for the Canadiens before being traded to Hartford in 1991.
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