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Big E on the move? Red Wings GM Ken Holland, Jonathan Ericsson’s agent play contract poker

We at least got a very strong sign, via DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose, that the Red Wings are inclined to retain the services of Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, which shouldn’t be particularly difficult, but the Free Press’s Helene St. James reports that, despite his desire to remain a member of the organization, retaining Jonathan Ericsson’s services will be a stickier wicket for Red Wings GM Ken Holland:

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland met with the agent for defenseman Jonathan Ericsson while attending the NHL combine in Toronto on Wednesday. Holland said talks with Craig Oster went well, describing them as “a step in a long process. We’ll talk again, but negotiating a contract takes time.”

The Wings are interested in signing Ericsson, 27, to a multiyear deal. He rejected a multiyear deal offered around Christmas, and might decide to keep talks on a backburner with the Wings until July 1. Unrestricted free-agent defensemen tend to get juicy offers (Toronto gave Brett Lebda two years and $2.9 million last summer), and Ericsson is seeking a raise from the $1.25 million he made this past season.

The Wings have Ericsson slotted as a third-pairing defenseman, so they’re not going to break the bank to keep him. The defense is a bit murky right now because Nicklas Lidstrom hasn’t announced whether he’ll return or retire and Brian Rafalski retired last week, but replacing Rafalski—and possibly Lidstrom—will be addressed via free agency.

Continued, and my best educated guess is that Lidstrom returns, but Ericsson’s probably a 50-50 proposition. If he leaves, obviously, the Wings will either swing Brendan Smith into the lineup and use Kindl as their #4 guy or they’ll simply pluck a free agent from the bargain bin, but I don’t see the Wings giving up on Ericsson’s size easily.

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Hippy Dave's avatar

Hope Kronners is ready for the #1 job…

Posted by Hippy Dave from Portland by way of Detroit on 06/02/11 at 04:31 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

If Lidstrom leaves, you can bet that Holland will sign two top-flight defensemen.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/02/11 at 04:34 AM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

wow, that’s so fast for Smith

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 06/02/11 at 05:41 AM ET


I think we should all take a deep breath and remember that there is still a full month before E would be a UFA, so there’s plenty of time for a deal to get done.

Posted by Garth on 06/02/11 at 09:29 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

When Rafalski retired, Ericsson’s asking price went up.
His agent is playing hardball…doing his job.
Holland can play , also, so expect this negotiation to go down to July 1.

Posted by w2j2 on 06/02/11 at 11:01 AM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

If they want to really play hardball, I’d let him take a stroll. Big Error rarely uses his size and has more brain farts in a day than alot of guys have in a couple weeks. The UFA D pool isn’t stacked with studs, but we can find a serviceable replacement for him.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 06/02/11 at 11:22 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Ericsson is still young in his career, but I agree that if he gets greedy, the Wings should let him go.  Yes, he’s big, but Kindl showed me way more in terms of competitiveness and hockey smarts, and Smith is supposed to be really good - and ready.

Posted by MsRedWinger from the State where Tigers roam in the Spring on 06/02/11 at 11:32 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

Ericsson should call Andreas Lilja and ask for advice.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 06/02/11 at 01:29 PM ET


I would hate to give up on a young d-man.  Even though he does make several mistakes the potential is still there.  Keep him under $3 mill but if he wants more you let him walk.  He will get at least $3 mill on the open market!

Posted by wingnut888 on 06/02/11 at 01:31 PM ET

babymachine's avatar

Ericsson is smart (or his agent, rather). With Rafalski retiring, and Lidstrom still undecided, no reason not to wait and see how much money/years you can squeeze from Holland.

Posted by babymachine from Portland, Oregon by way of Macomb, Michigan on 06/02/11 at 02:06 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Lilja tried this, too.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 06/02/11 at 02:20 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

I don’t care what anyone else says; if Errorson makes more than $2.5 million a year I’ll be pissed.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 06/02/11 at 02:42 PM ET

awould's avatar

I don’t see the Wings giving up on Ericsson’s size easily

Why not? Ericsson gave up on using his size a long time ago.

Posted by awould on 06/02/11 at 03:00 PM ET


I don’t understand the conclusions people are jumping to.  All Holland said is that they’ve started talking.

Posted by Garth on 06/02/11 at 03:19 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

The UFA D pool isn’t stacked with studs, but we can find a serviceable replacement for him.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 on 06/02/11 at 09:22 AM ET

This is gold. 

Signing one or two top flight defensemen will not be easy and those in top 4 or top 6 teams won’t leave easily, but finding a veteran # 5 defensman to sign with the Wings for $1.5 a season to replace The Big Error will not be hard.  Waiting for his maturation is worth less and less.

Posted by RWBill on 06/02/11 at 03:36 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I’m with Fluffy, and $2.5 is on the very high end I would expect for Ericsson.

If Kronwall has another year like this and his contract comes up around Lid’s retirement I would expect to see him get several years at $5 .

Good times.  Ericcssson gave up on his size a long time ago.  Extraordinary line.

Posted by RWBill on 06/02/11 at 03:50 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.