Russian center Pavel Datsyuk signed a two-year contract worth $3.9 million (Ђ3.24 million) per season with the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.
The 27-year-old, his agent and the Red Wings had been negotiating since before the North American National Hockey League lockout began on Sept. 16, 2004. Datsyuk signed a contract earlier this month with Avangard Omsk of the Russian SuperLeague. That contract was matched by Moscow Dynamo, another SuperLeague team that Datsyuk played with during the NHL lockout.
Those moves created doubts that Datsyuk would return to Detroit this season. He had a breakthrough season in 2003-04, finishing tied for the team lead in scoring with 30 goals and 38 assists for 68 points.
Datsyuk was a standout during the past two regular NHL seasons and lackluster in the playoffs, like most of his teammates. He didn't score a goal in the 2003 or 2004 Stanley Cup playoffs and had just six assists.
Datsyuk is the final major piece of the puzzle Holland faced under the league's new collective bargaining agreement and its $39 million (Ђ32.42 million) salary cap _ about half of what Detroit has spent in the past.
Holland re-signed another restricted free agent, forward Henrik Zetterberg earlier this month and brought back veteran center Steve Yzerman. Almost a month ago, Holland said he was not close to re-signing Datsyuk or Zetterberg, who was also a restricted free agent. Detroit hosts the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 5 in the season opener, AP reports.
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