306-samuelsson-m-090703

Forward Mikael Samuelsson signed a three-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. ((Paul Sancya/Associated Press))

Free agent winger Mikael Samuelsson signed a three-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. The terms of the deal were not announced.

Samuelsson spent the past four seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2008 and going the distance versus the Pittsburgh Penguins this year.

The forward said it was more than money that made up his mind to play north of the border next season, and he believes the Canucks have the potential to be a Stanley Cup challenger.

"Obviously that [money] was the key, I shouldn't lie," Samuelsson said in a telephone conference call Friday. "They [the Canucks] have a good thing going and I think my role can be a little different here."

"I like the team. When you play against Vancouver it's always a hard game and a skill game too.

"You need some experience [to win the Cup]. You need to be hungry. I believe we can do some damage."

The 32-year-old from Mariefred, Sweden, has played 466 career NHL games, scoring 86 goals and 208 points with an accumulated career total of 35 points in 69 playoff games.

Samuelsson is also an Olympic gold-medallist as he was a member of Team Sweden at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy in 2006.

The six-foot-one, 205-pound winger was drafted by San Jose 145th overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft.

He's the third forward to leave the Red Wings in the off-season. Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky signed with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier this week.

In other signings, the Phoenix Coyotes locked up defenceman Shaun Heshka to a one-year contract with undisclosed terms.

Heshka, 24, had three goals and 23 assists in 77 games last season with the AHL's Manitoba Moose.