Kronwall Extended, Bruno/Nyquist Trade Places

The Detroit Red Wings signed defenceman Niklas Kronwall to a seven year extension today. The deal is worth a total of $33.25 million and a yearly cap hit of $4.75 million.

Kronwall was set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season along with defence partner Brad Stuart, as well as forwards Jiri Hudler, Todd Bertuzzi and Tomas Holmstrom. Nicklas Lidstrom will stay a Wing or retire and RFA's Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader will be due for a raise.

Kronwall's contract news immediately made me breath easier about the offseason. With Nik Jr. signed, the Wings have a lot of flexibility for the deadline and potential free agents. His salary is lower than I expected, so to me, $4.75 for the guy that is supposed to replace Nick Lidstrom is a bargain and a half.

Kronwall's role has evolved from that of an oft-injured rookie, to a solid second line defenceman, to a big open ice hitter, to a minute munching, puck moving, hitting machine-like, smaller version of (do I say it?) Vladimir Konstantinov.

When I compare it to the other defenceman on the Red Wings, it makes perfect sense. Lidstrom leads the way at a bargain $6.2 million, followed by Kronwall's new deal (currently he makes $3 million), Stuart at $3.75 million, Jonathan Ericsson at $3.25 million, and Ian White at $2.875 million. The only problem I see is that Ericsson and White need to be switched. I've brought this up before, but Ericsson's contract is ludicrous. If he's making that amount, Kronwall might as well make $12 million a year.

Seriously, Kronwall deserves that deal. He's been a reliable defenceman that used to be hot and cold, but is now coming into a phase where he is being leaned on to carry some more minutes. He is an assistant captain and has learned from Lidstrom for ten years.

This sets the tone for Stuart's negotiations; he won't make more than Kronwall or even get close to that amount. My cap for him would be his current contract, no more. As for a potential pick up, the Wings have boat loads of space to make a "Marian Hossa" type move with a defenceman (to take Ericsson's place. Did I mention Wings fans don't like him?)

In other news, the Wings put Fabian Brunnstrom on waivers, where he cleared and was sent to Grand Rapids (AHL) today. Brunnstrom only played eight minutes in Detroit's loss to Washington and didn't make an impact. This move is purely to get him more playing time, which I expected from the start. Having him sit is doing him no good. 

Detroit also called up Gustav Nyquist, who has been tearing up the AHL with nine points in as many games. Nyquist, a two time Hobey Baker finalist, impressed the Wings brass in training camp and the preseason enough to almost land himself a spot on the team. Mike Babcock said he will play against Minnesota on Tuesday and will play on the top two lines with "skilled players." Chalk this up as another good move to try and get out of their recent four game slump.

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Kyle Busch


George Prax's picture

That term is kind of long, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Still, he's what, 31? That's a dangerous contract to give and a little uncharacteristic of the Red Wings.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Not really, you figure they have a boatload of cap space, and instead of paying him what the "Heir to Lidstrom" should be payed ($6 million+), 4.75 does not seem like a lot at all. If it was however, I would blame the Ericsson contract for inflating Kronwall's price. Nik has done enough to prove that he has the ability to play top line minutes, so when the time comes and he in fact DOES play those minutes, the contract will look genius. Also, look ata Zetterbg and Franzen's contracts: they decline to almost nothing when they hit their late thirties, so it gives them a little breathing room to give Kronwall some more money to stay. If he would have hit the open market, he porbably would have gotten more money than Ehrhoff did in Buffalo. I have total faith that this contract was a steal.

George Prax's picture

The money is good, the term is not. He's a great defenseman, but that's a hefty price to pay for a guy who's offensive numbers are inconsistent at best and who's been sort of injury prone. Moreover, while I'm sure he's getting top minutes, it's placing a big omen on him to say that he'll be replacing Lidstrom for all intents and purposes. If he was 3-4 years younger then I wouldn't argue with you. I don't want to sound like a hypocrite with Erik Cole in my team's line-up but 7 years is a bit tough to swallow. That said, at least Holland's getting things done instead of waiting for June.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

I see your point, it makes sense. But if Detroit is giving him seven years, they clearly see something. I think if it was structured a little like Z or Mule's deals with a decreasing cap hit it would work better and lessen the risk. He also has a NTC for the first five years I believe. All in all it's just nice to know he isn't going anywhere.

George Prax's picture

Well, no matter what they see, they can't see five years into the future Tongue.

Kyle Andrew Busch's picture

Ironically I think I had a blog titled "Red Wings Crystal Ball" so therefore I can see into the future. But all in all, decent deal for the Wings, agree?