The Detroit Red Wings have reportedly reached an agreement with defenseman Jonathan Ericsson on a six-year contract extension, and that is great news for the future of the team. The 29-year-old Swede, who plays on the top pairing in Detroit alongside Niklas Kronwall, has a cap hit of $3.25 million this season and was slated to be a free agent at season’s end. The terms of Ericsson’s deal have not been officially disclosed, but it is being reported at a cap hit of $4.25 million per season. If that’s the case, this another great deal for the Red Wings as the price would have been much higher if they let Ericsson hit the open market.
Ericsson joins Kronwall (signed through the end of the 2018-19 season) and Jakub Kindl (signed through 2016-17) to form a core group of young defenseman who are signed long-term. Brian Lashoff is signed for two more seasons, and Brendan Smith is signed for one more, so the top priority now becomes getting a long-term deal for rookie Danny DeKeyser finalizaed. Veteran Kyle Quincey will be a free agent at season’s end, but given his performance in Detroit the chances of him returning are slim.
The Red Wings have watched as Ericsson has matured into a top-pair blueliner, who is more than capable in his own zone and can occasionally be a factor at the offensive end of the ice. Only Kronwall logs more minutes per game, and he continues to be one of the leaders of a penalty kill that is currently ranked sixth in the league. Keeping him around for years to come while only giving him a raise of a million dollars per season shouldn’t be considered anything short of a bargain, and now there is some cap space left for Detroit to go after another top-four defenseman to replace Quincey or some scoring forwards over the summer.