When Pavel Datsyuk underwent ankle surgery in June, there was hope he’d be ready to start the regular season.
That hope appears to have faded.
Via MLive and Puck Daddy, the 37-year-old told SVT.se that the rehabilitation time has proven to be considerably longer than first thought. As a result, he may be out of action four or five months, which could push the start of his season into November.
Datsyuk only has two years left on his contract. While he still has the ability to dazzle, his injury log is only growing longer as his time in the NHL winds down. He hasn’t played more than 70 games since 2009-10.
That Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings’ other great center, and Niklas Kronwall, still their best defenseman, are each 34 years old only adds to the urgency to make a run at the Stanley Cup, before the reins are officially handed to the next generation.
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The Red Wings made a big splash on Friday, signing forward Gustav Nyquist to a four-year contract extension worth $19 million.
“We’re very happy to have Gustav locked up for four more years,” Detroit GM Ken Holland said in a statement. “He’s quickly become an important part of our team, and is a critical piece to the Red Wings’ future.
“He is just now entering the prime of his career.”
Per War On Ice, the deal carries a $4.75 million average annual cap hit, and Nyquist receives a full no-trade clause in the third and fourth years of the deal. Financially speaking, it’s a nice pay bump for the Swedish sniper, who was pulling down an average of $950,000 per year on his old deal.
Nyquist certainly deserves the raise.
He’s been Detroit’s most consistent scorer over the last two seasons, leading the team in goals (a combined 55 in ’13-14 and ’14-15.) This year, he finished third in the NHL with 14 power-play markers, pacing a Red Wings PP that led the league with 70 goals on the man advantage.
With this new deal, the 25-year-old becomes the third highest-paid forward in Detroit, behind Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Nyquist, along with Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, is also one of just three forwards inked beyond 2017.
With this deal done, Holland will now turn his focus to his other two remaining RFAs: Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen.
Shortly after landing one of the biggest UFA prizes in Mike Green, the Red Wings made another big move by signing Brad Richards to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
For Richards, 35, it’s his second straight one-year pact. Last year he inked with Chicago and enjoyed a good bounce-back campaign after getting bought out by the Rangers.
Richards’ regular season was solid — 12 goals and 37 points in 76 games — and he stepped up in the playoffs, emerging as a solid contributor in Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run by scoring 14 points in 23 games, averaging close to 17 minutes a night.
In Detroit, he’ll look to fill the second-line center void that Stephen Weiss was never able to fill.
The Red Wings bought out the former Panthers pivot yesterday, putting Richards in a group of centers that includes youngsters Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening. Should Richards emerge as Detroit’s 2C, it’ll allow new head coach Jeff Blashill to keep Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the club’s top line.
As for the team Richards left, there was some thought Chicago would have interest in retaining his services. But that possibility was ruled out yesterday when the team acquired center Artem Anisimov in the Brandon Saad trade, then inked Anisimov to a long-term extension.
Related: As Weiss struggles, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are split up