The San Jose Sharks got off to a fast start in the free-agent market.

Defenseman Gary Suter reached a $10 million, three-year contract agreement with the Sharks on Wednesday, the first day of the signing period.The Sharks had a head start on the move, with general manager Dean Lombardi sending a ninth-round draft pick to Chicago during the entry draft Saturday for the right to negotiate with Suter. Because it was not defined as a trade, the NHL did not announce the transaction.

Meanwhile, several teams were pursuing goalie Curtis Joseph.

Agent Don Meehan said he talked Wednesday with the New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Florida about Joseph, who spent last season in Edmonton.

Edmonton offered $4 million a season to keep Joseph, but the final price could reach $6 million a year.

The Rangers are serious bidders after recently rejecting demands from goalie Mike Richter for a five-year package worth about $33 million. Richter, selected by Nashville in expansion draft Friday, also became a free agent at midnight Tuesday.

Right winger Brett Hull is the highest-profile forward on the market. St. Louis general manager Larry Pleau said Tuesday he won't make another attempt to re-sign Hull.

Most likely, Hull will don a Blackhawks uniform. His father, Bobby, scored 604 goals for Chicago, and owner Bill Wirtz would like nothing better than to see another high-scoring Hull zooming up and down the wing in Chicago.

Other big-name forwards available include Ron Francis, Doug Gilmour and Geoff Courtnall. Tampa Bay reportedly offered Gilmour a three-year, $18 million package.

Also job hunting are Wendel Clark, Guy Carbonneau, Benoit Hogue, Greg Adams, Esa Tikkanen, Bernie Nicholls, Steve Thomas, Marc Bureau, Mick Vukota, Ed Olczyk, Murray Craven, John MacLean, Brian Noonan, Brian Bellows, Dale Hunter, Randy Cunneyworth and Pat Falloon.

Clark could be bound for Dallas if Stars GM Bob Gainey gets his way.

Detroit is zeroing in on defenseman Uwe Krupp. Al Iafrate, Bruce Driver, Doug Lidster, Marty McSorley, Myrki Lumme and Jeff Brown are among other free-agent defensemen.