My Argument Against Glendening


I spent a bunch of this morning Tweeting my displeasure about the Red Wings’ signing of Luke Glendening to a contract extension. I stuck to Twitter because I was mostly on my phone, but I want to pull it all together with some thoughts here.

Here are the pertinent (and sarcasm-laced) Tweets. There were some more but they were almost entirely me being a smart-ass rather than trying to make an argument.

Last year Brian Lashoff wasn’t expected to see a second of ice time in Detroit. He was nominally the team’s eighth defenseman, simply because he was the longest-tenured Griffins blueliner. Then Detroit was down three defensemen three games into the season. Not only was Lashoff pressed into service, the Red Wings had to sign Kent Huskins just to have a full roster for the home opener. In those circumstances, Lashoff stepped in and played like a third-pairing defenseman. And was signed to a three-year extension a month later.

This year, every Detroit penalty killer was injured and Glendening stepped in. Glendening proved that he could somewhat be counted on to kill a penalty at the NHL level. Much like playing third-pairing defense it wasn’t setting a very high bar but it was enough, and Glendening got a similar three-year extension.

Additionally, the Wings have just added an NHL contract to the books for next year. Assuming everyone is healthy and all of the restricted free agents return, the Red Wings have 14 forwards who are not waiver-exempt already under contract for next season (that includes Glendening as he’ll likely burn off his waiver exemption this season). That’s with Tomas Jurco (waiver exempt) back in Grand Rapids, no roster spot for star prospect Anthony Mantha, and none of David Legwand, Daniel Alfredsson, Todd Bertuzzi, or Daniel Cleary re-signed. It also leaves no room to bring in someone else via free agency.

A few other people said things I liked about the deal and I want to talk about that, too.

The “fancy stats” seem to show that, no matter how much Mike Babcock likes him, Glendening isn’t very good. He’s a replaceable fourth liner. Fourth liners are important but not so important that you give them a deal for three years after most of one season.

There is a saving grace, though.

Before this season, I don’t think I’d ever expect the Red Wings to bury a guy in the AHL all year. Yeah, they did it to Derek Meech back when he would have been claimed off re-entry waivers but that was different as the Wings would have been stuck with half of his cap hit. Then this season happened and we say Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves, Jordin Tootoo and even Mikael Samuelsson pass through waivers and end up in GR for at least a few games. With that in mind, I still think this is an awful deal because it means the organization is placing high value (though not necessarily high contract value) on a fourth-liner. It’s an awful deal that can be entirely hidden in the minors, though, so if the organization decides Glendening isn’t as necessary as they seem to think now, it won’t hurt them going forward.

Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development, as well as that of DH.N's sibling site,

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