Great time to be an UFA defenseman: Red Wings sign Jonathan Ericsson to three-year, $9.75 million deal

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The silly season is officially upon us. Christian Ehrhoff signed a 10-year deal this afternoon. Steve Montador signed his own deal worth $11 million as well. In the most recent development, Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson has agreed to a three-year deal with the Red Wings for a reported $3.25 million per season. And the hits just keep on comin’.

The new contract for the Detroit blueliner is a significant raise from the $1.25 million he made last season. More importantly to the Red Wings, the $3.25 cap hit will be tougher to work around than the former $900k cap hit that was on the books. Ken Holland had originally hoped to sign Ericsson to a contract in the $2 million range—but as more and more defensemen signed before July 1st, the player was able to increase his bargaining power. Not bad for a guy who only has 9 goals and 24 assists in 163 career games.

Never underestimate the power of supply and demand.

Last season, the 27-year-old former 9th round pick was a 3rd pairing defenseman in Detroit. But with Brian Rafalski’s somewhat surprising retirement, the Red Wings were left with a gaping hole in their top 4. Next year he’ll join Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, and Niklas Kronwall as the guys depended upon to log the major minutes as the Wings try to make another run. Despite the new contract and apparent potential, Ericsson is a significant step down for a contender.

To put the contract in perspective, Ericsson’s cap hit is more than Kronwall’s and almost as much as Stuart’s. He’ll have every opportunity to prove that he’s worth the raise, but for the first time in years, the Red Wings are paying a player before they’ve proven their worth on the ice. If he thrives in his new role, then the deal will look reasonable in a few years. But as for today, Red Wings fans aren’t pleased.

Next on the agenda for the Red Wings will be to continue to work on deals with forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller. Holland explained that negotiations have been going well with Eaves’ camp, but they have not made much progress with Drew Miller. If they lose him on July 1, it will just be another hole the Wings will need to fill.

But hey, at least they got the defenseman they wanted.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: