The life of a free agent this summer is proving to be a difficult one as we’ve documented all off-season long. If you’re a veteran free agent just looking to re-sign with a team you’ve spent 14 seasons with, you’d think this process might be a little easier, but for Kirk Maltby times are tough.
The career grind-liner for the Red Wings is seeing that spots to play on the Red Wings have evaporated with the team re-signing Drew Miller, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm. The Wings bringing Mike Modano on board and bringing Jiri Hudler back from Russia have essentially put the writing on the wall for the veteran Maltby, but he wants to stay a Red Wing badly and he might just get his wish as The Detroit News’ Gregg Krupa finds out.
As the Red Wings prepare for their first preseason skate together, they may well have the ol’ grinder back in the fold. At the very least, no prospects should be eyeing the sweater with the No. 18 hanging in Maltby’s locker quite yet.
“We are having discussions with Detroit, and we hope that something will be finalized next week,” Anton Thun, Maltby’s agent, said Friday.
Thun said he has had “conversations with others,” including general manager Steve Yzerman in Tampa Bay. But Maltby’s preference is to play a 15th season in Detroit. And it sounds like Maltby has at least contemplated a two-way contract that would have him playing a bit in Grand Rapids.
A two-way contract makes the most sense at this point in time for Maltby. Playing time and roster space is going to be at a premium and with the possibility that even established veteran Kris Draper could be fighting for ice time with the likes of Helm, Miller, Abdelkader and Patrick Eaves the likelihood of Maltby getting through all those guys for a spot on the team seems slim.
Giving Detroit the ability to call up Maltby to and from Grand Rapids without negotiating waivers would be beneficial to the front office, not so much for Maltby. It’s up to Maltby how much he wants to stay in Detroit at this point and how much pride he wants to suck up in order to do so. The free agent market is, indeed, a cruel mistress this year.
(Stick-tap to George Malik for the story)