Ilkka Pikkarainen never got a chance to play in New Jersey during his first stint with the Devils.
According to Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, Pikkarainen, 28, was signed today to play for the Devils and not in Lowell.
"He was signed for here," Lamoriello said.
Lamoriello said that the Pikkarainen, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound right wing, would "help" offset some of the free agent departures of Wednesday, but he wasn't necessarily signed to replace any of the individual players that left -- John Madden, Brian Gionta and Mike Rupp (as well as goaltender Scott Clemmensen).
"He's big and strong and he helps our size factor," Lamoriello said.
Where Pikkarainen fits will be up to the incoming head coach, but Lamoriello said he probably wouldn't be on the first two lines.
"I think he's going to play on the third or fourth line, he said.
Lamoriello said an ankle injury that Pikkarainen suffered in training camp with the Devils cost him a chance to make the team during his first stint with the team.
"He went to the minors and was fine and then never got a chance to get back with the team we had," he said. "So, he went to Europe and he's had a couple of outstanding years there. He's really excited about coming back. He's a feisty player and brings size and strength and he's scoring touch there in an elite league. We're happy he's coming back."
Pikkarainen had 24 goals, 13 assists and 149 penalty minutes, in 54 games with HIFK Helsinki in Finland in 2008-09.
Lamoriello believes Pikkarainen has improved as a player while playing the last three seasons in Finland.
"There's no question in our mind that that's the case," he said.
So far, the Devils have not signed any free agents that were not already property of the team. They re-signed defenseman Andy Greene on Wednesday and, though Pikkarainen played in Finland the last three years, the Devils retained his NHL rights.
League-wise today has been much quieter after a flurry of free-agent signings Wednesday.
There have been a handful of players that signed today, including defenseman Rod Scuderi with Los Angeles, Nik Antropov with Atlanta and Adrian Aucoin with Phoenix.