Detroit Red Wings officially sign Kirk Maltby, place Derek Meech on waivers

kirkmaltbyhit.jpgThe Detroit Red Wings did some lower-level roster shuffling today.

George Malik passes along the news that the team finally officially signed aging forward Kirk Maltby to a one year, two-way deal while Red Wings GM Ken Holland placed young defenseman Derek Meech on waivers. Maltby’s deal will be worth $525 K at the NHL level and $105K at the AHL level.

The 37-year-old Maltby played with Detroit during most of his 16 NHL seasons, as he joined the team when he was only 24 years old. The 2009-10 season saw a minor dip in his already meager production, as his typical 10-11 point totals dropped to six as he only appeared in 52 regular season games and averaged 10 minutes of ice time per game. Naturally, Maltby is there as a scrappy character guy, so his biggest impact rarely shows up on the scoresheet.

Derek Meech is much younger at 26, but the team found him expendable. It’s not quite as surprising when you look at his career numbers, though. He played in a career high 49 games last season, managing six points and a -12 rating while logging just under 12 minutes per game.

Ansar Khan points out the fact that the Red Wings will probably need to move a forward to the minors before the season starts, so it’s quite possible that training camp could (at least temporarily) make or break Maltby’s status with the team. Meech will need to clear waivers (and possibly hope for a preseason injury or two) to avoid a demotion to the AHL, so the Red Wings could have some interesting storylines going into training camp. We’ll keep you updated.

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    Coyotes, Martinook avoid arbitration with two-year contract

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    The Arizona Coyotes and restricted free agent forward Jordan Martinook were able to avoid their upcoming salary arbitration hearing by agreeing to terms on a two-year contract on Saturday.

    Martinook’s new deal will pay him an average annual salary of $1.8 million per season according to Craig Morgan of 98.7 in Arizona and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

    “We are pleased to sign Jordan to a two-year contract,” general manager John Chayka said in a statement released by the team. “Jordan is a hard-working, versatile forward with good speed. He was an effective player for us last year and will play an important role for us this season.”
    Martinook had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 26 but this contract helps the two sides avoid that unpleasantness.

    A second-round pick by the Coyotes in 2012, the 24-year-old forward has spent the past two full seasons playing for the Coyotes and is coming off of a 2016-17 season that saw him score a career-high 11 goals and 25 points. He mad $612,500 this past season, so the $1.8 million cap hit over the next two years represents a pretty significant raise for him. He bounced around the Coyotes’ lineup this past season, but he spent the majority of his time playing on a line alongside Tobias Rieder.

     

     

    Tom Gilbert signs one-year contract to play in Germany

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    After playing 11 seasons in the NHL veteran defenseman Tom Gilbert signed a one-year contract to play in Germany this upcoming season.

    On Friday the Nuremberg Ice Tigers announced that Gilbert, 34, had signed with the team.

    He spent the 2016-17 season with the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals organizations, appearing in 18 games for the Kings and scoring one goal to go with four assists. He was traded to the Capitals during the season but never played a game for the team.

    A fourth-round pick by the Colorado Avalanche in 2002, Gilbert has played 655 games in the NHL, scoring 45 goals and adding 178 assists while playing for the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens and Kings.

    He will not be the only former NHLer playing for the Ice Tigers as the team already includes Steven Reinprecht, Milan Jurcina, and Colten Teubert.

    Blackhawks adjust to returns of Saad, Sharp (and no Hossa, Panarin)

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    The Chicago Blackhawks’ summer conventions are a time for fans to get a look at players, and sometimes, for people to get adjusted to new arrivals and departures.

    Even with that in mind, that theme seemed to play a big role in Friday’s proceedings, as the Blackhawks wondered how Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp would fit back into the lineup … thanks to holes caused by Artemi Panarin being traded and Marian Hossa being unavailable.

    Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville rattled off a long stream of possibilities, as CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers reports.

    “You’ve got [Nick Schmaltz] who can play center or can play wing. [Artem Anisimov] in the middle, he can play with [Patrick Kane] so you’ve got some options there. With [Patrick Sharp] coming back and [Brandon Saad] coming back you’ve got some looks up front, some continuity from history and reacquainted again with [Jonathan Toews] and Saader on the the line,” Quenneville said. “And Sharpie and Kaner is a possibility.”

    Yes, that’s a versatile set of options. It’s also plausible that Jonathan Toews could enjoy a nice boost with Brandon Saad back on his wing, yet let’s not assume that it’s a slam-dunk victory in everyone’s eyes.

    Who knows how things will ultimately shake out, but at the moment, you wonder if Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov suffer a bit with Panarin out of the mix.

    Still, as explosive as Kane + Panarin was at times for Chicago, they ultimately couldn’t get the job done. Kane acknowledged as much on Friday.

    Can they do better next time around? Well, with Sharp and Saad back in the mix, at least they have more players who’ve cleared those playoff hurdles before.

    Myers has more at CSN Chicago.

    Red Wings’ cap future after Tatar signing: should they buy out Ericsson?

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    In a vacuum, the Detroit Red Wings handing Tomas Tatar a four-season deal that carries a per-year cap hit of $5.3 million makes a lot of sense. Tatar ranks as one of their deadliest scorers, and at age 26, the contract likely takes up the final years of his prime.*

    Still, it must be mentioned that Tatar’s contract reminds us that the Red Wings may no longer stand as an obvious contender, yet they sure spend like one.

    Yes, Johan Franzen‘s near-$4 million will go to LTIR, but this Cap Friendly reading still stands as a reminder that there isn’t much breathing room, especially with Andreas Athanasiou needing a contract. Detroit figures to have a little less than $1 million minus Franzen:

    OK, so there are a few options. Winging it in Motown brings up an intriguing idea: what if the Red Wings buy out defenseman Jonathan Ericsson‘s contract?

    They used Cap Friendly’s tool to show that a cap hit of $4.25 million would be spread out over six seasons in this setup. Each year, the actual cost would be a bit less than $1.39 million.

    The bright side is that, for the next two seasons, the Red Wings would see real savings:

    2017-18: save $2.61 million
    2018-19: save $2.86 million
    2019-20: save $2.86 million
    2020-21 and 2021-22: would cost them about $1.39 million

    Naturally, that would be quite the price to pay to get a player to not play for the Red Wings, yet it would also help Detroit squeeze under the cap. More on that conundrum here.

    Let’s leaf through most of the Red Wings’ structure to see which deals are good, bad, and ugly.

    (Note: As usual, Cap Friendly was highly helpful in putting this together.)

    Dicey defense

    • Obviously, Ericsson’s health issues and struggles make him a tough guy to keep around at 33 and with a $4.25M. He’s merely the most obvious defensemen who’s an issue for this team.
    • Mike Green presents an interesting situation. He still has his use, yet at 31 and with his $6 million cap hit to expire after next season, the Red Wings must ponder his future. If they don’t want him back, could they send him somewhere else, whether that be now or in-season? Salary retention would likely need to be a consideration, especially if they wanted to move him earlier. That said, their already dicey defense would experience a painful loss if they traded Green.
    • Danny DeKeyser‘s $5 million cap hit through 2021-22 would be very difficult to move. At least he has … some proponents in the organization?
    • Niklas Kronwall‘s been a great solider for DRW, and the positive news is that his $4.75 million cap hit will evaporate after two seasons. Much like Ericsson, health is really hampering what he can do in the present, though.
    • Trevor Daley was just signed this summer. While he brings some strengths to the table, you have to wonder if the 33-year-old will slip enough that the $3.16 million could be an annoyance rather soon.

    Forwards

    • Tatar ($5.3 million) becomes the second-highest-paid Red Wings forward behind Henrik Zetterberg, who makes just over $6 million. Zetterberg quietly enjoyed a strong 2016-17, and you can bet that he delivered at far higher a value than $6 million through the earlier years of his contract. Still, he’s 36 and that cap hit runs through 2020-21, the same year Tatar’s ends. Not ideal.
    • That Franzen headache expires after 2019-20.
    • Frans Nielsen is a nice player, and he had a strong debut season for Detroit. Still, he’s somehow already 33 and his $5.25 million cap hit won’t expire until after 2021-22. One would think that, if the Red Wings wanted to move him, now would be one of the better times since his value is probably still reasonably high. Of course, savvy teams will balk at that term. Maybe, like DeKeyser and some other players, the Red Wings would need to move a “problem” (Nielsen’s term) for some other team’s issue.
    • Moving on, there are bit players getting too much. Justin Abdelkader‘s term (2022-23) and $4.25M cap hit give off an albatross vibe. Darren Helm, already 30, at $3.85M per year seems shaky. Even Luke Glendening‘s reasonable but maybe unnecessary $1.8M cap hit argues that Red Wings management might be overvaluing supporting cast members.
    • Then you have young players who may cost more soon. Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha could see big jumps with breakthrough contract years as their ELC’s expire. Will Athanasiou be on a shrot deal, too?

    Goalies

    The netminder situation is pretty cloudy as well.

    Jimmy Howard‘s contract is worrisome, although at least that $5.3M only runs through two more seasons. Petr Mrazek‘s a baffling situation, though maybe a team would take him from Detroit if the Red Wings retained some of that $4M? Would that even be a smart move considering Mrazek’s still-considerable potential?

    ***

    Yikes, that entire outlook is almost entirely dismal. It’s not easy to say what the Red Wings should do next, especially if you’re not in the “blow it all up” camp.

    (Note: Ken Holland doesn’t seem to be in the “blow it all up” camp.)

    * – Of course, he could defy the general odds by having a longer run of prime years.