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.