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Will Niklas Kronwall remain a Red Wing after this upcoming season? Hell yes!

The Hockey News has chosen to staff its every-Friday “Ask Adam” column/mailbag feature with other THN contributors as Proteau’s on vacation, and while the staffers’ answers regarding James Reimer’s staying power, the Islanders’ long-term future in Nassau County (which the Hockey News’s Ryan Kennedy also tackles in a separate column) and questions regarding the Los Angeles Kings’ blueline highlight this week’s wide-ranging breadth, I’m a Red Wings fan, so the Typing Monkey in charge of KK for most of the day (why Paul agreed to this, I do not know) would prefer to focus on a Red Wings-related question:

I’m a Detroit fan and with Lidstrom probably retiring after this season, I was wondering if you think the Wings could re-sign Niklas Kronwall (he’s a UFA this summer)? And if they do, will he be able to take that next step and soften the blow from Lidstrom’s departure?
Brett Vandermuren, Amherstburg, Ont.

Hi Brett, Assuming Nicklas Lidstrom retires at the conclusion of next season, you have to believe the Wings will do everything in their power to retain Niklas Kronwall.

Saying Kronwall is no Lidstrom is no insult because, well, nobody is Lidstrom. The hallmark of Lidstrom’s play is his super-human panic threshold. Kronwall is a different beast. He impacts games with a thud, whether it is via a big shot or a crushing hit. He’s an upper-tier defenseman in the league, though probably not truly elite. He’ll also be 31 in January, so I’m not sure how much better he’ll get.

Detroit is always a team with a plan so who knows what the Wings might do in the wake of Lidstrom’s inevitable retirement. From where we stand, though, expect Kronwall to be a huge part of the Detroit ‘D’ for the foreseeable future. - [Ryan Dixon]

The Wings will have to pay more than “Ericsson money” to retain Kronwall and Brad Stuart, but even given the facts that Ericsson and Ian White are signed for multiple seasons, that Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff represent the team’s future and that the Wings are highly likely to bring in a high-priced free agent when Lidstrom does eventually retire, Kronwall and Stuart are now the heart of the Wings’ defense, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will remain Red Wings for the balances of their respective careers.

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Comments

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I have no doubt that Kronwall will stay with Detroit. He has bought into “The Red Wing Way” - I touched base yesterday on my site with the idea of Kronwall taking on more responsibility with the team and actaully getting the thrid “A” now that Draper has retired. 

I don’t see him leaving. A or no A.

Posted by Monica McAlister from Michigan on 08/05/11 at 02:36 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Kronner’s ready.  I think we’re going to see a lot more crucial ice time for him and Stuey this season.  No better teacher than throwing him into the proverbial lions cage and see how he comes out.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 08/05/11 at 05:48 PM ET

Behind_Enemy_Lines's avatar

I would like to see buckets with an A. Helm or Kronner would be deserving as well.

Posted by Behind_Enemy_Lines from Evanston,IL on 08/05/11 at 06:47 PM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

did Brad Stuart’s family ever move to Michigan? that may be a factor for him resigning if they didn’t

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 08/05/11 at 07:32 PM ET

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No, they are still out in San Jose.  Stuart spent time out there when he had broken his jaw.

Posted by Monica McAlister from Michigan on 08/05/11 at 07:42 PM ET

wedge56's avatar

My thinking is Stuart is gone when his contract is up.  He will get more money from some other team and live closer to his family.  Of course if both Kindl and Smith’s seasons go bonecrushingly bad…we might just overpay for him to stay.

Posted by wedge56 on 08/06/11 at 12:58 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

If Stuart’s familial issues were too much to bear, he’d already have been traded.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/06/11 at 02:49 AM ET

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I have to agree with George on this one.

Many of the players are away form their wives/families.  It’s just a differnt way of life for players in the NHL. Examples within the Red Wings - Hank.  How often does he see Emma with her career in Sweden? What about Pav? After reading Dimitri’s piece on him and realizing his daughter goes to school in Russia.  The are not the only ones.  Ever read the blog by Brent Sopel’s wife? Her and the kids lived in Chicago still while he was in Atlanta (do they stay here or go with him to Russia now?).

Not saying it doesn’t come with its difficulties; but it’s just the way of life for many hockey families.

Posted by Monica McAlister from Michigan on 08/06/11 at 08:57 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Brad Stuart had sold his house in California - or was trying to…  Or am I having another of my all-too-frequent brain farts?

Anyway, Kronner and Stuie aint going nowhere.  No way.  No how.

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 08/06/11 at 02:26 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Stuart sold the one in LA.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 08/06/11 at 02:29 PM ET

Bradley97's avatar

Both Kronwall and Stuart are making $3.75 million in their final contract seasons (Kronwall’s cap hit is 3 and Stuart’s in exact). If they have good first quarter/half seasons as 25+ minute defensemen playing the way they should (Kronwall in all situations, Stuart primarily at even strength -hopefully with Kronwall- and PK -maybe mostly with Lidstrom?), I would expect Holland to try and lock both down to actual raises of $2 million/each, cap hits of $5.75 million a piece, for 4-5 years (after that their bodies might break down due to style, so if they do stay for life -via signing now or resigning later- the post 35 year old contracts are likely to come down). I could be very wrong, but I think that’s a fair raise and cap hit for both players.

I think the actual dollars could break down something like this in a five-year deal:

Year 1: 6.75
Year 2: 6.25
Year 3: 5.75
Year 4: 5.25
Year 5: 4.75

Of course, that’s assuming nothing drastic occurs in the new CBA to change how contracts are averaged against the cap. Because of their styles and ages (Krownall is turning 31 in January, Stuart is turning 32 in Nov) Krownall would be 37 and Stuart 38 at the end of a five-year deal. As the contracts would kick in before 35 if they needed to retire like Rafalski did the money would come off. If the Wings felt they needed to buy out the final season the hit isn’t that bad, and the contract is not ridiculously low at the end, something the league wants to eliminate going forward even though I believe they did a good job of ending obvious circumvention with the contract rules they put in place during that summer of ridiculous free agent and extension signings. The league used the Wings’ life contracts as guidelines, and the rules based on those guidelines are best for every team in the league as holding onto to franchise players is key to team identity (though the NHL front office still clearly has issues understanding this simple fact).

If the Wings go with four-year contracts for the same 5.75 cap hit each (I do think that’s fair, even if both can get closer to 7.5 on the open market as Z is now the top cap hit on the team for anyone willing to buy-in long term -short term could have exceptions if there is cap space- ) they could look like this:

Year 1: 6.50
Year 2: 6.00
Year 3: 5.50
Year 4: 5.00

A four year extension would take Krownall to 36 and Stuart to 37. In both contracts I chose to start high and decrease by 0.5 million dollars (easier math and taking into account potential changes in contract rules in the new CBA).

Holland could have something else in mind, especially for Kronwall, since he could be thinking Kronwall is worth signing longer, say a 7-year contract that takes him to 39. That could look like this:

Year 1: 6.75
Year 2: 6.75
Year 3: 6.25
Year 4: 6.25
Year 5: 5.75
Year 6: 4.75
Year 7: 3.75

I did not play with the $1 million dollar year math, nor the cutting contract in half as part of the decrease rule because I don’t think it’s necessary as I do believe if Kronwall cannot play to his cap hit at that point he will follow Rafalski’s example and retire with money on the table. But, If Holland does want to play safe for potential buyout issues, a 7 year deal for Kronwall could look very different, with Kronwall making around $7.5 million for 3-4 and some other creative drop off years that does includes math I’d rather not mess with. Plus, I think it would take an 8 year contract to work the $1 million year(s) in at the end, taking him to 40, still in the age range to keep the entire contract averaged under the cap according to the current long-term contract rules (he would turn 40 during the final season of an 8 year deal, not before).

Holland is good with cap math (as well as his capologist) but the reality is if Holland wants to give Kronwall a life contract he’ll look to get the cap hit down to around $5 million instead of closer to $6 million, which the 5.75 number I’m thinking is. Personally, I would not be comfortable with anything more than 5 years for either player because of style related injury concerns. If they are good to go in their post 35 years, short term contracts would be ideal at that point, IMO.

Posted by Bradley97 on 08/07/11 at 12:39 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.