Sundin shuns Rangers, signs with Vancouver

Updated: December 18, 2008, 10:01 PM ET
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

Mats Sundin is a Vancouver Canuck.

The 37-year-old free agent chose the Canadian club over the New York Rangers, agreeing to a deal for the rest of the season Thursday.

"He's real happy to have made a decision," Sundin's agent J.P. Barry told ESPN.com Thursday evening, moments after the agreement. "He's excited with the opportunity that the Canucks will offer him."

Sundin's contract was still being finalized Thursday night but sources tell ESPN.com it will be worth around $5 million -- $4 million in a signing bonus and $1 million in take-home salary for the rest of the season. The salary cap hit to Vancouver will be around $5 million.

"We are very excited to have Mats join the Vancouver Canucks," Gillis said. "Playing previously in two Canadian markets and consistently being among team and league leaders in scoring, Mats has proven that he can excel under pressure. He adds a wealth of experience, leadership and skill to the Canucks."

Burnside: Hired gun

We waited and waited, and finally Mats Sundin made his decision. But the whole process has revealed the veteran forward to be the exact entity he insisted he wasn't 10 months ago -- a hired gun, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside writes. Story

Sundin had 78 points (32-46) in 74 games with Toronto last season, his 13th season with the Maple Leafs. The 6-foot-5 Swedish star has totaled 70 or more points every single season of his career except for the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season where he had 47 points in 47 games.

"I am truly excited to be joining the Canucks," Sundin said in a statement. "Once I made the decision to return to play a few weeks ago, the Vancouver opportunity was simply the best overall fit. I want to thank Mike Gillis and the entire Canucks organization for their professionalism throughout this entire process."

Sundin had been on the phone with his agent, on and off, for the past two days. Speculation had leaned toward him choosing the Rangers, especially after he was spotted leaving Madison Square Garden with Henrik Lundqvist and Markus Naslund last Saturday night in New York. But in the end, Barry said Sundin just needed to get all the information before making a decision.

The Canucks have plenty of room under the NHL's $56.7 million salary cap to accommodate Sundin while the Rangers do not.

Sundin was selected first overall in the 1989 draft by the Nordiques, becoming the first European hockey player to go No. 1.

The nine-time All-Star had 32 goals last season. He is the Maple Leafs' career leading scorer with 987 points (420 goals, 567 assists) and served as captain in 10 of his 13 seasons in Toronto.

Sundin is expected to join the Canucks right after Christmas, when he returns from Sweden. Barry said Sundin should be ready to play in January.

"He has been training for several months off ice and skating almost every day this month," Barry said.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.