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Red Wings Extend Nick Jensen

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NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The trade deadline is fast approaching, and many expect the Red Wings to make some personnel moves as their playoff hopes rapidly fade away.

The team announced a deal today, but it was not one that anyone anticipated. Nick Jensen signed a 2 year extension with the Wings today, with his salary being announced as $800K/$825K over the next two seasons. From the Wings:

Jensen, 26, made his NHL debut and recorded his first career assist on Dec. 20 at Tampa Bay and has gone on to log 27 games with the team, registering eight points (3-5-8). He notched his first NHL goal on Jan. 31 vs. New Jersey and is currently tied for second among the team's defensemen in goals. The rookie blueliner averages 16:05 time on ice and sits seventh among NHL rookie defensemen with more than 10 games played with a 0.30 points-per-game average. Jensen has also logged six points (1-5-6) in 27 games with the Griffins. Currently in his fourth professional season, Jensen has totaled 61 points (10-51-61), 46 penalty minutes and a plus-51 rating for the Griffins since debuting in 2013-14.

The timing of this move is a little curious. Jensen has performed well since being called up from Grand Rapids, and the deal represents a modest raise and small amount of term to see if he can continue his development while recognizing that he’s already 26 years old. Jensen was set to become a UFA after the season, so there was no need for the Wings to extend him unless they thought he fit into their long-term plans.

Which is what really makes this interesting, as there are reports the Wings are looking to re-sign Brendan Smith. With the looming expansion draft, the Wings could protect 3 or more defensemen (with conventional thinking being that they would protect no more than 3 given the quality of the forwards needing protection). However, signing Jensen right now wouldn’t make any sense unless he was going to be protected because he would have been a UFA and they could have tried to sign him after the expansion draft. This seems to be a clear indication that a) Jensen has impressed enough to be kept around for the next couple of seasons and b) a defenseman or two is getting moved either at the deadline, or we’ll see some interesting names being left exposed by the Wings when it’s time for the expansion draft.