Canucks Ink Mikael Samuelsson to Three-Year Contract

Kevin LeeContributor IJuly 4, 2009

DENVER - MARCH 04:  Mikael Samuelsson #37 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on March 4, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Red Wings defeated the Avalanche 3-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks announced yesterday that the club has signed free agent forward Mikael Samuelsson to a three-year contract worth $7.5 million.

Samuelsson, 32, spent the past four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings primarily in a third line role and due to cap constraints; the Wings had offered a significantly lower salary of $1.2 million.

In a conference call, Samuelsson said he chose Vancouver over Detroit for money reasons and the opportunity to play in the top-six for the Canucks. He expects both more offensive and defensive opportunities on the team.

Canucks' assistant general manager envisions Samuelsson being the right-hand shot on the power play for the Sedins and possibly even playing the point. But obviously the decision is up to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

But don't get too excited about Samuelsson being the next Anson Carter. Remember last summer? The Canucks traded for and signed restricted free agent forward Steve Bernier and he was hailed as the next Anson Carter. The experiment lasted all of the preseason and two games into the regular season before being broken up. Bernier was a right-hand shot and had size, but had no hands to finish the opportunities around the net.

Following the signing of Samuelsson, it only leaves the Canucks with $7,266,667 in cap space remaining to sign Shane O'Brien, Kyle Wellwood, Jannik Hansen, a backup goalie, and possibly a No. 5 or 6 defenceman with an offensive upside.

O'Brien and Wellwood should cost a little over $1 million to sign each. It is presumed the backup goalie will be top prospect Cory Schneider, whose cap hit is $1,084,200, while Hansen is rumoured to be on the trade block.

Factor all that in, and it leaves the Canucks with about $4 million in cap space to pick up a No. 5 or 6 defenceman with an offensive upside unless you choose to use Aaron Rome and Lawrence Nycholat as your sixth defenceman.