He was just "there" in Hartford. I think at the end of the season a few years ago, but not for long. Played in the playoffs that year too. I remember him somehow scoring a goal in that series, lol. I mean okay, he wasn't the worst thing to hit the ice, but he wasn't impressive.
Hannu's a puck-moving defenceman. He's one of those guys who is an excellent player in Europe, but it didn't really work out for him in North America. I was just reading his Wikipedia page, which reminded me that he had a pretty bad shoulder injury soon after coming over.
He came over in very much the same way as Ilkka Heikkinen (I think they both even came from HIFK), signed as a free agent. To my knowledge, he's no relation to the Devils player.
Hannu Pikkarainen was signed before the 2005-06 season, but there were issues because the contract was not signed by the necessary date. Although the Rangers were very anxious to have him come over, they had to wait a year. So it was with great expectation that he joined the young Rangers in their first Traverse City appearance in the Fall of 2006. During the tourney, he sustained a severe shoulder injury that kept him out for most of the season. Here is what I wrote about him in my recap of that tournament:
"Hannu Pikkarainen (free agent), who the Rangers failed to sign on time last season to have him come over from Europe, has been signed for this year. He skated in most of the first two games of the tournament, prior to sustaining a shoulder injury toward the end of Saturday’s game. As it turns out, Pikkarainen will need surgery to repair the shoulder, and will be out of action several months. However, in the two games he played, Pikkarainen showed quite a bit of potential. Although at times he failed to adequately cover his man (which lead to scoring chances and one actual goal), his instincts are generally good and he will be able to be offensively productive over time. It is unfortunate that Pikkarainen was injured when he was, as he needs playing time to acclimate to the North American game. Once he does that, he will be an excellent prospect for the Rangers."
It was an unfortunate injury, as he never got a real chance in North America before the one-year contract was over. We will never know whether he had what it took, but the Rangers were none to pleased that after the 2006-07 season, Pikkarainen was not interested in re-signing.