Ruutu returns to Canucks

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Flying Finn Jarkko Ruutu is back with the Vancouver Canucks on a one-year deal.

"He's improved every year we had him," said general manager Dave Nonis, who called Ruutu a strong two-way player who is notoriously difficult to play against.

The 30-year-old right-winger is entering his sixth National Hockey League season after spending 2004-2005 with HIFK Helsinki, where he recorded 10 goals, 18 assists and a career-high 215 penalty minutes in 50 games. He scored six times and notched eight helpers in 71 games for the 2003-2004 Canucks.

Nonis said Ruutu had the option to sign a longer deal, but "if he can improve his standing and put himself in a position where he can maybe earn more, good for him," Nonis said.

Nonis said Ruutu's signing doesn't affect ongoing efforts to re-sign veteran free agent forward Matt Cooke. He said the Canucks have "plenty of room left" under the $39 million US salary cap.

Canucks also announced the signing of Brent Johnson, a 28-year-old free agent goaltender who went 5-9-2 for the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes in 2003-2004.

The Farmington, Mich., native was a 1995 fifth-round draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche. He was the Blues' number one netminder in 2001-2002, going 34-20-4 with a 2.18 goals against average. He'll be competing with Alexander Auld to back-up Dan Cloutier.

"He's hungry to show he's capable of playing in the National Hockey League again," said assistant general manager Steve Tambellini.


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