Samuelsson has signed a three-year contract with the Canucks for a reported $2.5 million annually. He was offered a contract to stay with the Detroit Red Wings, but the Canucks offered him more money and a better opportunity to contribute offensively.
Vancouver Assistant General Manager Lorne Henning said on a conference call Friday that Samuelsson will be a top-six forward for the Canucks and he hinted that he could be the right wing on a line with fellow Swedes, Henrik and Daniel Sedin. He played with the twins in the 2006 Olympics, where Sweden won gold. Samuelsson will definitely play the point on the Canucks power play because of his potent right-handed shot.
"I have played against the guys and I know it's a good team with a chance to win," Samuelsson said. "I think they're hungry and want to win. It's a great city and I have never played for a Canadian team. That's exciting for me as well. Everything fell into the right place. I talked to some of the guys on the team, too, and they said they wanted me. It wasn't too hard of a decision. The whole thing felt great right from the get go."
The Canucks initial offer came on Wednesday and Samuelsson agreed to it Thursday. Red Wings GM Ken Holland would have liked to re-sign Samuelsson, but cap problems limited what he could offer. Holland still has to re-sign restricted free agent Jiri Hudler.
"I liked it in Detroit and I have no hard feelings against them, but they came up too short and too late let's just say," Samuelsson said. "In my mind they made their choices when they signed their other guys. I don't know if it (came down to) Hudler or me, but I know they have the cap issues there and that's how it goes. You play for a team, get better and better and hopefully you win the Stanley Cup and then guys leave. That's how the system is built."
The fact that in Vancouver he'll join fellow Swedes the Sedin twins and defenseman Alexander Edler matters to Samuelsson, but not as much as the opportunity for more ice time in an offensive role.
"They have a plan for me and they believe in me," Samuelsson said. "If I play good, I see myself as a top-two liner."
Henning said that Samuelsson's powerful and quick right-handed shot was one of the key reasons they targeted him when the market opened for business Wednesday.
"It's always good when you can get a right handed shooter with the twins and he does have a great shot," Henning said. "We've always wanted to get that right-handed shot to work with the twins on the power play and we like him on the point on the power play. It's somebody we were targeting for a long time and we were just lucky to get him."
His winning background was also a key point of emphasis.
"He knows what it takes," Henning said. "You can never get enough guys that are winners. He's won a gold medal. We want character and he certainly has a lot of that."
In 466 career NHL games, Samuelsson has 208 points (86-122-208). He has 35 points (13-22-35) in 69 career postseason games.
"I like this team," Samuelsson added. "When you play against Vancouver it's always hard games and skill games, too. I like the way they play. In Detroit we played really skilled and puck possession, but so does Vancouver. Obviously you need some experience and yeah, I have some experience, but at the same time you need to be hungry and if you haven't won definitely you're hungry. I believe we can do some damage."
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