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 Lose Howard in 4-2 Win over Maple Leafs

The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 Saturday night but lost starting goaltender Jimmy Howard in the process, as he suffered a shoulder injury early in the third period.

With the Red Wings leading 2-1, Joffrey Lupul drove to the net and bumped Howard, then fell on top of him and swept the rebound of a Phil Kessel shot into the net. Howard could not continue after the play and was replaced between the pipes by Joey MacDonald.

Jiri Hudler would put Detroit back in front just 38 seconds later, slapping a shot from the left faceoff circle past Toronto netminder James Reimer.

Todd Bertuzzi rounded out the game’s scoring with an empty net goal in the final minute.

Henrik Zetterberg had opened the game’s scoring 5:05 in, swatting a backhand rebound chance under Reimer with the Red Wings on a power play.

Nazem Kadri made it 1-1 with 2:04 left in the first, snapping a shot from the right faceoff circle through a Darryl Boyce screen and past Howard on the short side.

Tomas Holmstrom gave the Red Wings a second lead at 9:17 of the second period, deflecting a Niklas Kronwall shot from the blue line past Reimer on another Detroit power play.

The Wings finished the night two-for-two with the man advantage while the Leafs were scoreless on four power play attempts.

Howard stopped 15 of 17 shots before his injury. MacDonald stoped all seven shots he faced in picking up the win while Reimer made 25 saves on 28 shots.

The win puts the Red Wings at 1-1-1 in their current five-game homestand. They next host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.


Detroit was without forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen due to injury. Ruslan Salei was a healthy scratch on defense… Red Wings general manager Ken Holland later said that Howard’s injury “doesn’t appear to be anything significant.” With normal backup goalie Chris Osgood on long-term IR recovering from a sports hernia, Detroit is expected to call up either Thomas McCollum or Jordan Pearce to back up MacDonald on Monday.

Islanders Claim Nabokov off Waivers

Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has been claimed off waivers by the New York Islanders.

Nabokov was signed by the Detroit Red Wings to a one-year deal on Thursday. Because he started the season in Russia, he had to be placed on waivers on Friday before he could join the Red Wings.

The Islanders already have three goalies on the roster. Rick DiPietro is currently ill and Nathan Lawson left Friday night’s game with a knee injury. Kevin Poulin finished in net.

Nabokov was not expected to clear waivers, as his $570,000 salary and lack of performance-based bonuses was not enough to prevent other NHL teams from being interested in him.

With Nabokov lost, the Red Wings will likely call Joey MacDonald back to Detroit to back up Jimmy Howard. Jordan Pearce will back up Howard in Saturday’s matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Chris Osgood is expected to return from sports hernia surgery in mid-March.