Monday, July 21, 2008

Red Wings re-sign Howard, Ericsson

Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President/General Manager Ken Holland today announced the team has re-signed defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and goaltender Jimmy Howard to three-year contract extensions. In keeping with club policy, additional terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
>> team release
It's unlikely either Howard or Ericsson gets a lot of time in the NHL this season, and in any other organization, that would likely mean they'd wait for free agency and sign elsewhere.

Ericsson, in particular, would have received a lot of interest on the open market. According to Swedish sources, his deal will pay $550,000 the first year, $900,000 the second and $1.25-million in the final season, which could be an incredible bargain if he continues to progress.

It's a one-way contract, meaning he'll be paid whether he's in the AHL or not, and given Detroit's glut of defenders, it seems a trip to Grand Rapids is probably in the cards. You wonder if keeping Andreas Lilja and Chris Chelios (who still hasn't signed) on the roster is holding some of this team's kids back.
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14 Comments:

At 1:55 PM, July 21, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

I don't think anyone understands the Lilja signing. It reeks of "we won the Cup, therefore let's keep everyone" syndrome, which every GM is prone to, I suppose.

Ericsson is not waiver eligible next year, so he can go to Grand Rapids easily. Kyle Quincey and Derek Meech, however, would have to clear waivers. Holland has said he'd carry 8 d-men next year, so I think it's possible that one of Lebda, Quincey, or Meech are dealt. That'd make 8 d-men with the team with Chelios back in the fold.

All 3 of those d-men are young and have cap friendly contracts, so they'd have good value as trade assets.

 
At 2:12 PM, July 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lilja was signed before Stuart was, so I think that plays into it a bit. There is some sense too that maybe Lilja is an insurance policy, and will himself be traded if Ericsson in particular is ready - but if Ericsson isn't yet, then Lilja will be kept.

Lilja isn't horrible, despite his giveaways - he's a very good shot-blocker and good penalty-killer, but he gets into trouble when he tries to do more than that.

(They might also want Ericsson to have another year in Grand Rapids to fully acclimate to playing defense, since he is a converted forward and might still have some glitches in his game.)

 
At 2:20 PM, July 21, 2008, Blogger James said...

Holland was rather candid, actually, about Lilja simply being an insurance policy:

http://blog.mlive.com/snapshots/2008/07/holland_discusses_his_roster_p.html

Ericsson could surprise some people this season, Lilja probably being the most surprised of all...

 
At 3:15 PM, July 21, 2008, Blogger Hallock said...

I also wonder how much some Red Wing talent is getting held back.

It's not unusual in the Wings organization for guys to spend more than a few years with their AHL affiliate, but they are up to their ears with potential players. Eight deep on defense is getting a bit crazy already.

 
At 3:30 PM, July 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the past they wound up trading young talent for veterans at the trade deadline because the salaries weren't an issue - they might not be used to dealing with so many young players ready to play in the NHL.

 
At 3:49 PM, July 21, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

I also wonder how much some Red Wing talent is getting held back.

It's not unusual in the Wings organization for guys to spend more than a few years with their AHL affiliate, but they are up to their ears with potential players. Eight deep on defense is getting a bit crazy already.

Well, when one of them is a once in a generation type like Lidstrom, it's a bit easier. And the Wings have depth because, well, they've been building this team since the 1980s. Only Kronwall and Lebda in their current top 6 are relatively recent developed players...

Lidstrom ('89 draft)
Rafalski (UFA - 2007)
Kronwall ('00 draft)
Stuart (trade - 2008)
Lebda (undrafted UFA - 2004)
Lilja (UFA - 2005)
Chelios (trade - 1999)
Meech ('02 draft)
Ericsson ('02 draft)
Quincey ('03 draft)

Below that they have Kindl ('05 draft) and now Pyett ('06 draft) who show very good promise. Recently they've been performing better than even their own standard in drafting and developing defensemen. You can't forget that if he wasn't forced to retire, Jiri Fischer ('98 draft) would be part of their core as well (though likely Lilja or Stuart wouldn't be).

 
At 4:00 PM, July 21, 2008, Anonymous snafu said...

Glad you pointed out Fischer's forced retirement, saskhab, as the defense could look quite different had it not been for his heart problems. Realistically, Konstantinov would only be recently retired (if at all) if he hadn't been in the infamous limo crash. Just goes to show how much they believe in the draft and development route.

That said, the organization made a shift in their thinking about how much defensive depth to carry. This came on the heels of the loss to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007. They were without Kronwall and Schneider by that point, and were forced to rely on some youngsters in Lebda and Quincey, along with old man Cheli and error-prone Lilja. They still managed to hold their own but that convinced management to carry more insurance.

 
At 4:13 PM, July 21, 2008, Anonymous ]effadams#2 said...

Why all the complaints about too many defencemen? Wouldn't prudent management want more than the bare minimum. When was the last time that a teams top six defencemen played all 82 games.

Is eight defenceman enough in todays game? I would argue that having 10 NHL quality defenders, rotated through the line-up would be most beneficial to success.

Injuries, families, attitudes, slumps, bumps and bruises would be handled far better when a coach does not have to put out the only six guys he has.

I always chuckle reading trade rumours when message boards assume a player must be dealt when a team has more that 6 defenders under contract.

 
At 4:25 PM, July 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any details on the Howard signing? Will that be a NHL or 2 way deal? You have to think they're looking at 09-10 for Howard with the signing of Conklin to support Osgood.

 
At 5:11 PM, July 21, 2008, Anonymous Ryan said...

Not only was there the playoff loss without Kronvall or Schneider, snafu, but there was a brief period in February of this year where Chelios was their #1 defenceman. That's why Lilja's back (doesn't hurt that he's the second best PK defenceman on the team, either)--at least until training camp. All these guys signing with the Wings know how much depth there is, and they all know they're competing for a spot in the organization, not just in the lineup.

But yeah, Howard and Ericsson will almost certainly be in the AHL barring injuries. Jim Nill and co. worry more about how much ice time their prospects get than where they get it.

 
At 6:03 PM, July 21, 2008, Blogger Scott said...

Why wouldn't Ericsson need to go through waivers? I thought that a player no longer on his entry level deal would need to. If Ericsson does need to clear waivers to go down, there should be plenty of teams willing to pick him up.

 
At 6:43 PM, July 21, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Player with oneway deal has to go through waivers. Detroit can play with conditioning assignments for a while, too.

Eventually defencemen get injured because it's by far the toughest position to play abuse wise. And nobody expects Christos Tselios to play 82 games at his age.

 
At 8:10 PM, July 21, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Player with oneway deal has to go through waivers.

This is not true. Waiver status has nothing to do with a one or two way deal, though almost all players that are waiver exempt are on two way deals.

Why wouldn't Ericsson need to go through waivers? I thought that a player no longer on his entry level deal would need to. If Ericsson does need to clear waivers to go down, there should be plenty of teams willing to pick him up.

That is true for players who sign their first contract at age 18-21. But for players, like Ericsson, who sign at age 22 (or 23), they still have 3 years of waiver exemption, but can only sign a 2 year entry level contract. It's a weird little twist and allows you to sign a player to a one way deal but easily clear him to the minors. Stefan Kronwall of the Leafs played under these conditions this past year, for example.

This only applies if you play under a certain number of games. And for goalies, the rules are even more lax, and Howard can go to the minors this year without passing through waivers. So for one more year, the Wings can keep Ericsson and Howard in the minors. Next year, they don't have that option.

http://www.nhlscap.com/waivers.htm

 
At 3:46 PM, July 24, 2008, Anonymous Carlos said...

Good Job! :)

 

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