The biggest block in the Red Wings off-season has fallen into place today as Nicklas Lidstrom signed a one-year contract extension for $6.2 million. Lidstrom made $7.45 million last year and the decrease in salary was expected as the six-time Norris Trophy winner heads closer to retirement.
By signing a one-year deal, it allows Lidstrom to continue to be a part of the team but not put them in a tough position in terms of salary cap. Since Lidstrom is over 35, if he were to retire before his contract expires (say on a 3-year deal) then he would stay on the cap until that contract is up. With the one-year deal it makes the rest of Lidstrom's career a step-by-step decision instead of a sudden decision to sign on for multiple years.
Lidstrom voiced perhaps the biggest reason for returning as follows:
"If the team was looking to rebuild and get rid of older players it might have been a different situation,'' Lidstrom said. "But they're in it to win it. Kenny kept telling me that, too. He said, ‘We want to have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup."
Perhaps one of the biggest impacts that Lidstrom could have this year is the mentoring of the two young guys on the roster on the blueline: Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson. Although it's unclear at this point whether either of them will get consistent starting time, they're both expected to be big parts of the future of the organization and as much time practicing with him and learning from him as possible is critical.
Now that Lidstrom's contract is secured, expect the rest of the Red Wings free agents to fall into place. Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi are both expect to re-sign and Lidstrom's new deal puts those wheels in motion. With Lidstrom's contract now signed, the Red Wings have $50.379 million committed to next year's roster and now have six defensemen under contract. The salary cap is expected to bump up to $58 million from $56.8 million so the Wings will have some room to make some signings if necessary.