Is it worth bringing Datsyuk Back?
With news breaking that the Magic Man is done with SKA, will one of the greatest Red Wings ever return to Detroit? And is it worth it to bring him back?
*Ducks for cover* Ok let me start by saying this, I love Datsyuk more than life itself. For 14 glorious years we got to watch the best hands in hockey history go to work across 1,110 games (including playoffs). He was sick. He was the magic man for a reason. With reports coming out that he will no longer be playing for SKA in the KHL, all signs point to Pav returning to the Red Wings. However, I just want to weigh the pros and cons before everyone rushes to a definitive YES.
- He’s a legend. He’s one of the greatest Red Wings ever. #13 will never be worn by another Red Wing again and I look forward to the day it is in the rafters. With Stevie Y back, the probability of Sergei joining him, and now the return of Pav? The Wings would at least be bringing back some of the glory days for fans and it would obviously be awesome to see Datsyuk sporting the winged wheel again.
- Veteran presence. With the retirement of Zetterberg before the season, the Red Wings brought back Thomas Vanek to be the well-aged vet among the forwards. With his contract up, the Red Wings may be looking for another one (although with Ken Holland out, maybe Yzerman thinks differently?) Either way, imagine what Datsyuk could teach Zadina, Rasmussen, Larkin, Mantha, Svech, AA, Hirose, etc. etc. Just one year with him in that locker room could prove wonders to the teams future.
- He will be 41 by next season. This is no longer the 30-year-old, 97-point scorer anymore. Sure, his hockey IQ won’t diminish at all, but his skill and quickness obviously will because that’s just how the body works. Also, he has played in more than 70 games (including playoffs) once since 2011-12, which was only 71 total games back in 2015-16. How much would be left in the tank?
- Production. This kind of goes along with his age as well. In his final season with the Red Wings, Datsyuk put up 49 points in 66 regular season games. In his 3 years with SKA he had 111 points in 135 games. Obviously for being in his late-30’s/early-40’s, averaging nearly 0.80 PPG the last 4 seasons is pretty impressive, but again, he will be 41. You can’t predict what father time may have in store for him.
- Contract. I don’t think Datsyuk would get a massive contract, or even more than a one-year deal. He finished his NHL career making $7.5M, and in the KHL averaged out to about $3.9M a year. It’s not like the Red Wings are in cap hell anymore, and they especially won’t be most likely come next year, but I would have to see the figure if he were to sign back with the Wings. As mentioned, he’s a legend, and will be treated as such. Nick Lidstrom was making $6-7M down the stretch of his career, but also was still playing like a Norris Trophy D-man. If we can get Datsyuk for a similar 1 year/$3M figure like Vanek, I’m all for it. But if the number starts creeping up to $4-5M+, that is when I become more skeptical.
- Roster Spot. You have Zadina, Svechnikov, Rasmussen, Kuffner, Hirose and maybe even Veleno (also our potential first round pick?) all fighting for roster spots next year. With some bad contracts still standing in the way at forward, bringing in another veteran to take a forward spot has me skeptical too. I want to see all the kids in action next year, for most of the year too, as well as for them to play real minutes. If we could ditch an Abby, Helm or Nielsen for Pav, obviously I wouldn’t think twice. However, I can pretty much guarantee those three aren’t going anywhere. I just feel there’s a lot more prospects looking for spots this year, with hopes of commanding big minutes, and I want them to get their chance.
I’m not trying to play devils advocate here, or to try and advise everyone to not want Datsyuk back. I would love to see him for just one more year because I feel we were cheated a bit when he left. The contract would be the big question mark for me. I know many will say “who cares, he’s earned it,” but anything more than a year and over $4-5M is really where I would start questioning it. I trust Stevie. I trust Pav. And I hope they get something done at a team friendly price. I just wanted to make sure everyone sees both sides of it and felt a discussion was at least warranted.
Do you want Pavel Datsyuk back with the Red Wings next season?