Wings stay busy, sign Tootoo to three-year, $5.7 million deal

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Get your train whistles out, Red Wings fans. You’ll be needing them.

As per TSN’s Darren Dreger, Detroit has signed former Nashville forward Jordin Tootoo to a three-year, $5.7 million deal ($1.9 million annually.)

It’s a move that raised eyebrows throughout the league. Tootoo had spent the first eight years of his career with Detroit’s heated Central Division rival, the Nashville Predators.

The signing also stirred up some intrigue because, well, Tootoo isn’t your typical Red Wing. A feisty, fiery, cannonball-esque energy guy, Tootoo’s known largely as an agitator — one that tiptoes the line between effectiveness and recklessness.

That said, his play seems to have matured with age (last year’s Ryan Miller incident notwithstanding.)

Overlooked in 2011-12 was the fact Tootoo put up a career-high 24 assists and 30 points while playing over 13 minutes a night. He scored his first power play goal since the lockout, appeared in a career-high 77 games and seemed to be evolving into a versatile player.

It’s possible the Wings groom Tootoo to become a “Grind Liner” in the mold of Kris Draper/Kirk Maltby. The 28-year-old certainly possesses the skating speed and forechecking ability, but will need to add more discipline to his game.

Tootoo’s 725 career penalty minutes over 486 games works out to roughly 122 per 82 contests — that probably won’t fly on a Red Wings team where nobody had more than 65 PIM last season.