Red Wings Free Agency Week in Review

We’re one week into the NHL free agency season and the Red Wings have seemingly made all the moves they expected to make, aside from signing a backup goaltender. Let’s take a look at each signing.

Jonathan Ericsson
Ericsson’s three-year term and $3.25 million annual salary rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way when this deal was announced the night before free agency opened. Detroit is clearly paying for potential here, as they have more faith in Ericsson’s continued development than the fanbase does. If Ericsson develops as the team hopes, this is a good deal given the market. If not, this is a rare mistake for Ken Holland.

Patrick Eaves
The Red Wings kept one of their top penalty killing forwards by signing Eaves just before free agency opened. $1.2 million doesn’t break the bank and the three-year term is nothing to be afraid of. It’s a very Kris Draper-like deal for a Draper-like player.

Drew Miller
Miller had said he was intent on testing the free agency waters but re-upped with Detroit a short time into free agency with a two-year deal worth $1.675 million. I have to think he could have gotten more on the open market – at least $1 million per year – so I wonder if the two years is what sold him on returning to the Wings.

Mike Commodore
Commodore hasn’t had good things to say about Mike Babcock in the past so this move seemed like it came out of nowhere to me. Add in the fact that he’s slotted to be a #5 / #6 defenseman, which the Wings already have several of (Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Doug Janik) and it’s that much more of a surprise. That said, Smith could use another season in Grand Rapids playing top-pair minutes and Janik may have never really been an option, even with the one-way contract he’s on this year. Commodore provides size and grit on the blueline and might be able to teach Ericsson a thing or two. After being bought out by the Blue Jackets, he has a chip on his shoulder.

Ian White
I like the White signing. As two years with a cap hit of $2.875, it’s a good deal for a replacement for Niklas Kronwall, who moves up to replace the retired Brian Rafalski. With no real replacement for Rafalski available via free agency, the Wings chose to promote from within and then replace the promoted Kronwall. White’s a solid puck-mover with a right-handed shot who should fit in nicely on the now-complete Detroit blueline.

Garnet Exelby
A big body for Grand Rapids, I liked Exelby when he broke into the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers but he really hasn’t done much in his career. He should never see time in Detroit but he’s a good depth signing just in case.

Logan Pyett
Pyett seems to be going nowhere in the Detroit system but he fits in Grand Rapids. Another blueliner unlikely to see time with the Wings.

Chris Conner
Brought over from the Penguins, Conner is signed to a two-way deal and expected to push Cory Emmerton for the last forward spot in Detroit. He’s small and fast and works hard in the corners, something the Wings organization likes. He’ll have to clear waivers to go to Grand Rapids, but so will Emmerton so one of those two could be lost.

Jordan Pearce
Nothing has been confirmed but there are reports that Pearce was re-signed for two more years. He outplayed Thomas McCollum at the end of the Griffins’ season last year and was apparently convinced to keep playing hockey rather than pursue his medical degree.

Red Wings Add Defenseman White

The Detroit Red Wings added their second defenseman in as many days on Saturday, inking Ian White to a two-year deal.

Financial terms were not announced but the contract is reportedly worth $2.875 million per season.

White split the 2010-11 season between the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, and San Jose Sharks. In 78 games he scored four goals and added 22 assists.

The move comes a day after Detroit added Mike Commodore as the Red Wings look to replace Brian Rafalski on the blue line.

Detroit now has just over $7 million in cap space for the coming season, with only a backup goaltender left to sign.

Free Agent Preview 2011

We’ve got under four hours until the NHL’s 2011 free agency season kicks off, so I’m going to take a quick look at the Red Wings’ roster, where they stand with their own free agents, and who they might be looking at on the market.

Four forwards who were with Detroit last season are set to become free agents.Mike Modano won’t be back with the Wings but he’s not ruling out playing another year somewhere. His departure seems to have been a mutual decision as the team doesn’t have room for him and he didn’t have a particularly fun year in his hometown.

Kris Draper wants to return but has been told he won’t be offered a contract immediately. If the team can replace him they will.

Patrick Eaves is supposedly close to a deal to stay in Detroit but little is known about that. Reportedly, his concern is more about playing time than money.

Drew Miller has an offer on the table from the Wings but wants to test the open market. Like Eaves, he supposedly is looking for a place where he won’t have to worry about being a healthy scratch on a nightly basis.

The Red Wings kept Jonathan Ericsson in the fold, signing him to a (some might say ridiculous) three-year, $9.75 million deal last night. I don’t agree with the money but it gives Detroit six defensemen signed to NHL contracts for next season.

Detroit will look to replace the retired Brian Rafalski via free agency but their options are becoming limited. Christian Ehrhoff signed with Buffalo yesterday and James Wisniewski – long believed to be the Red Wings top target – seems to be set to sign a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tomas Kaberle is available as a third option from the top-tier talent but the Wings may have to look for a cheaper, less-talented player to round out their blueline corps. The name most mentioned to that extent is Ed Jovanovski.

If the Wings are looking to go cheap and roll the dice on defense, I’ve got a feeling about Sheldon Souray. Assuming a low contract, he’s the kind of low-risk, high reward guy Ken Holland likes to go after.

Of the team’s own free agents, neighter Ruslan Salei nor Derek Meech will be offered deals.

Like Kris Draper, Chris Osgood won’t know if he’ll be back until the Red Wings are done shopping elsewhere. After injuries the last two seasons, the team is worried about Osgood’s health. With a relative glut of goalies on the market, he could be easily replaced. Former Osgood backup Ty Conklin is a possibility, among many others.

Joey MacDonald will not return to the Detroit organization. He’s looking for a one-way deal in the NHL or he’ll head to Russia. The Wings wanted him on a two-way deal so he could continue mentoring Thomas McCollum in Grand Rapids and be called on in Detroit if needed.

Wings Sign Defenseman Commodore

The Detroit Red Wings signed free agent defenseman Mike Commodore to a one-year deal on Friday.

The contract is reportedly for $1 million, though financial terms were not announced.

Commodore was bought out by the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier in the day. He played 20 games for Columbus in 2010-11, scoring two goals and adding four assists before being sent to the AHL’s Springfield Falcons.

In 2009, Commodore famously told the Columbus Dispatch, “Mike Babcock was without a doubt an obstacle in my career.”

Commodore broke into the NHL under Babcock in Anaheim before he was traded to Calgary.

“I wanted to prove him wrong, I’m not going to lie,” Commodore continued. “I used him as big-time motivation. I thought he put his best foot forward to bury me.”

With Commodore signed, the Red Wings now have seven defensemen under NHL contracts for the 2011-12 season.

Red Wings Sign Eaves, Miller

With the clock counting down to the start of NHL free agency, the Detroit Red Wings shored up their forward unit, keeping Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller in the fold.

Eaves signed a three-year extension worth a reported $1.2 million per season.

Miller’s deal was for two years with a total of $1.65 million.

The pair’s return gives the team fourteen forwards for the 2011-12 season. As such, veteran Kris Draper cannot be expected to return to the team.

The Red Wings also announced that they would not seek to sign Jaromir Jagr as a free agent. The Pittsburgh Penguins made the same announcement.

Red Wings Re-up Ericsson

Been going over this on Twitter (@detroithockey96), but it’s been announced that the Red Wings have signed Jonathan Ericsson to a three-year deal worth $9.75 million.

I’ve become less and less of a fan of Ericsson but I still see the potential that the Detroit brass have always talked about. Maybe with a new coach handling the blueline this year he’ll break back out.

That said… Damn, that’s a lot of money. That’s a higher cap hit than Kronwall, making Ericsson the #3 d-man by payroll in Detroit, even though he’s slotted to be the fifth defender.

I trust Ken Holland but this is the first time I’ve really thought he made a bad deal.