Koivu signs one-year, $1.5 million contract with Blue Jackets

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Mikko Koivu signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

The 37-year-old forward scored 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 55 games with the Minnesota Wild last season and did not have a point in four Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“Mikko Koivu has been a very consistent, productive two-way player in the National Hockey League for many years,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He is a great leader, has impeccable character and will be a valuable addition to our young team. We are very excited that he has chosen to continue his career as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.”

The Wild announced they would not re-sign Koivu on Sept. 18 and he said he wasn’t sure if he would remain in the NHL, play in his native Finland or retire.

“I think there’s still a lot of questions for myself to make sure that it’s kind of the right, whatever it [is], if it’s the right thing to do in the future,” Koivu said Sept. 25. “I think there’s some decisions that I’ve made and then some question marks that I still have, so as of right now I don’t want to say too much just because you don’t want to take words back, and I think individually I have to make sure that it’s very clear what I want from the future, and when the time is right, then to come out with it.”

Koivu, the No. 6 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft who had been the Wild captain since 2009, is their all-time leader in points (709), assists (504) and regular-season games played (1,028), and ranks second in goals (205), behind Marian Gaborik (219). He has played in a Wild-record 59 Stanley Cup Playoff games, scoring 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists).

Koivu, who played 15 seasons with the Wild, became the first player to skate in 1,000 regular-season games for them on Dec. 1, 2019. His 21 points last season were his fewest since he scored 21 (six goals, 15 assists) in 64 games as a rookie in 2005-06.

“I think [the Wild not offering a contract] took me a couple days, a couple weeks to sink in, and kind of mixed emotions when you think about it and things like that,” Koivu said. “But that’s the nature of the business, and now I’ve just got to find a new challenge for myself and go with that.”

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