DETROIT – An old friend is making his return to Hockeytown.
Mikael Samuelsson, the Swedish right winger, who won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Red Wings’ 2008 Stanley Cup squad, agreed to rejoin his former club Sunday afternoon with a two-year contract.
Samuelsson, now 35, scored 67 goals with 92 assists in 278 regular-season games with the Wings from 2005-06 to 2008-09. But Samuelsson’s stint in Detroit is probably best remembered for what he did on May 24, 2008 – scoring the first two goals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against Pittsburgh.
“We know him and he can skate,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He has the ability to chip in with some scoring, he has a real good shot and he can transport the puck up the ice on the power play. He’s a real good solid pro and again we know him. You see guys 38, 39, and 40-years-old getting three-year deals, but I think he’s a good, young 35 because of his ability to skate.”
Following the 2008-09 season, Samuelsson tested the free agency waters and landed himself an annual salary of $2.5 million from the Vancouver Canucks on a three-year contract. Samuelsson also saw an increase in ice-time, which was something that he desired. In his first year in Vancouver, he produced a career-best 30 goals, finishing five tallies behind Alex Burrows for the team lead in the category.
The first two seasons in Vancouver were the best two campaigns of Samuelsson’s NHL career and the only time – in North America or Europe – that he managed to put together back-to-back 50-point seasons.
Last October, the Canucks traded Samuelsson to Florida, where he also spent the 2003-04 NHL season.
Following the NHL locker season of 2004-05, Samuelsson signed a one-year deal to join the Wings. Playing mainly on the third line and in some power play situations, Samuelsson became quite an offensive asset in Detroit, scoring 23 goals with 22 assists in 71 games.
Samuelsson is the third unrestricted free agent signed by the Red Wings on Day 1 of the NHL’s open-market period. Detroit also signed goalie Jonas Gustavsson and Swiss forward Damien Brunner.
“We’ve got lot of cap space and we wanted to get our organization deeper,” Holland said of Sunday’s early signings. “We tried to bring some kids along and some haven’t come along like we had hoped. Gyustavsson we see a guy’s who is 6-3, 6-4 with experience in Toronto with their media, and he dealt with it pretty good. We want Gustuvsson to push Jimmy (Howard) to another level and we want Jimmy to push Gustuvsson, so we think we have some real good goaltending.”
As far as Brunner, whom Holland saw for the first time at the 2012 World Championship in May, “We love his speed and that he has a real high skill level and that he has a nose to the net.
“With Damien Brunner, with Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi and a healthy Danny Cleary, we’re hoping that with the development of the kids were getting a lot of bodies and we’ll see what happens in the next few days.”
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