If there’s one thing Ken Holland is good at as Red Wings GM it’s locking up Detroit’s future cornerstones to long-term deals. Niklas Kronwall was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and make a killing on the open market, but instead he’ll stay in Detroit for seven more years.
UPDATE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the deal is worth $4.75 million per year against the cap, good for a total of $33.25 million. Kronwall turns 31 in January. Kronwall’s current deal has a cap hit of $3 million per year. The Wings had to pay up harder knowing full well that Nicklas Lidstrom won’t play forever (sad as that is).
Kronwall has made a name for himself with the Red Wings as a punishing checker and lately has opened up his offensive game to make him one of the league’s more solid two-way threats. Of course, Kronwall will forever be better known for his destructive open ice hits. Just ask any number of players in the Central Division that were unfortunate enough to be caught with their heads down coming through the neutral zone.
With Nicklas Lidstrom’s career winding down (we refuse to say this will be his last year), the heir to the throne is Kronwall. After all, both came up through the organization, both were highly touted, and both hail from Sweden. Kronwall’s more physical nature makes him different from Lidstrom, but Lidstrom is the better player by far. Detroit hopes that with security in place for Kronwall he’ll settle in and embrace his role as their man on the blue line for the future.
If he can turn into a Norris finalist in the future, it’ll be a huge success for the Wings. Asking for another Lidstrom is asking for another once-in-a-generation player.