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.