Mikael Samuelsson will be playing in Vancouver for the 2009-10 season. Samuelsson, 32, signed a three-year deal worth $7.5 million US. In his career, Samuelsson has won Olympic Gold, a Stanley Cup and a World Championship Gold. He played for Detroit for the last 4 seasons.
By Jim Jamieson, Canwest News Service July 5, 2009
VANCOUVER – The Sedin twins are used to going into an NHL season not knowing whether they’ve got a regular right-winger.
This year it’s not much different – for different reasons – as they already have two that can fill the role.
It’s one of the reasons the Vancouver Canucks went after Mikael Samuelsson right away when the free agency window opened on Wednesday.
The versatile winger who spent the last four seasons in Detroit took a day to mull over multiple offers before accepting the Canucks’ three-year, $7.5 million US contract, that was announced on Friday. The Canucks like the 32-year-old Samuelsson because of his skill set – he’s big, he’s fast and he can shoot the puck – but also because he played on a line with Daniel and Henrik for the gold-medal winning Swedes at the 2006 Olympics.
That’s not likely to be the case next season – as Alex Burrows will be the incumbent there – but you can expect the right-handed shooting Samuelsson to get a lot of time with the Sedins on power plays. The Canucks also like that Samuelsson can play the point on the power play – he was a fixture there on Detroit’s second unit – and has a bomb for a shot.
Samuelsson was 24th in the NHL in shots last season, with 257, in only 15:22 of average ice-time per game. He averaged 16 goals and 39 points in his four seasons in Detroit.
Samuelsson played on the second and third lines in Detroit and said he chose Vancouver not only because of the money.
“It was to hopefully get more ice time and get more opportunities offensively,” said Samuelsson.
Canucks assistant GM Lorne Henning said the six-foot-one, 205 pounder will play a prominent role.
“Certainly, we see him as a top six,” said Henning. “He’s a right-hand shot, which we love about him, his familiarity with the twins, he’s great on the power play, he’s got a great shot. There’s a lot of pluses.”
Henning said Samuelsson’s age – he’ll turn 36 in the final season of his deal – isn’t an issue.
“He’s in phenomenal shape,” said Henning. “He was one of their top conditioned athletes.”
Clearly, Detroit coach Mike Babcock is sorry to see Samuelsson go in what was essentially a salary cap squeeze. The Wings had offered him a multi-year deal for $1.5 million but it was too little, too late.
Just what ripples Samuelsson’s signing causes in the Canucks’ roster pool has yet to play out.
The addition of Samuelsson gives Vancouver a very credible second line if he plays with Ryan Kesler and Pavol Demitra, and some interesting options on the power play.
It also brings the number of players signed to NHL contracts for next season to 18 (11 forwards, six defencemen and one goalie), for a salary cap hit of about $49.6 million. That leaves Vancouver about $7.2 million below the cap ceiling of $56.8 million. However, it doesn’t include the expected salaries of unsigned but qualified restricted free agents Kyle Wellwood, Jannik Hansen and Shane O’Brien. That three skaters made about $2.5 million between them last season. Those numbers suggest it’s going to be tough to sign Mats Sundin and fill the other roster holes, a No. 5 defenceman and a back-up goalie, while staying under the cap.
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