The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/02/11 at 03:25 AM ET
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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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.