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Wings sign Brunnstrom for one-year

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROITFabian Brunnstrom got what he wanted when the Red Wings signed him Monday to a one-year, two-way contract.

Brunnstrom, who last scored an NHL goal 20 months ago, was impressive enough in his professional tryout (PTO) with the Wings that he now occupies a spot on the club’s 23-man opening night roster. The Wings  open the season Friday when they host the Ottawa Senators at Joe Louis Arena.

“Obviously, he had a good camp,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Things didn’t work out in Dallas for him, so we’re going to give him an opportunity to show us what he can do.”

In six exhibition games, Brunnstrom, 26, had three goals on seven shots with a plus-1 rating. His chances of the making the Wings’ roster improved when forward Jan Mursak, who was expected to be a lock on the roster, suffered a fractured ankle eight days ago. Mursak is expected to miss at least three months.

Brunnstrom was a highly-touted free agent from Sweden a few years ago with several NHL suitors, including the Wings and Vancouver Canucks – teams with a heavy contingent of Swedish players. But the 6-foot-1 forward elected to sign with the Stars. And after a three-goal performance in his NHL debut, Brunnstrom cool considerably. He has 19 goals and 21 assists in 99 NHL games.

Brunnstrom spent last season in the American Hockey League where he collected 15 goals and 20 assists in 72 games between the Texas Stars and the Toronto Marlies.

The Wings hope that a favorable locker room setting – with seven other Swedes – will help reignite Brunnstrom’s career.

“I look back to ’05 and I look at (Andreas) Lilja, (Mikael) Samuelsson and (Danny) Cleary; guys who were in the same situation, looking for an opportunity and they’re all still in the NHL today,” Holland said.

The Wings also cut 35-year-old center Ryan Johnson on Monday, making room for rookie center Cory Emmerton, who will round-out the 23-man roster.

Like Brunnstrom, Johnson, the younger brother of former Red Wings forward Greg Johnson, was on a PTO.

The Wings liked what Johnson brought in terms of shot-blocking and penalty-killing. He’s also a solid centerman in the face-off circle. But Emmerton is 12-years younger.

“We thought that Cory’s camp-run got better and better,” Holland said. “Ryan Johnson can really check and kill penalties, but you hope that Cory can develop into that.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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