NHL News: Detroit Red Wings Sign Colaiacovo, Abdelkader
By Rhys Richards (@RREsq)
As the hockey world awaits a probable lockout, the Detroit Red Wings signed a seventh defensemen and a homegrown youngster to multi-year deals.
According to MLive.com, Detroit signed free agent defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to a two-year deal rumored to be for $2.15 million his first season and $2.85 million in 2013-2014. The Red Wings also locked up forward Justin Abdelkader for four years in a deal believed to be for an annual average of $1.7 million per season.
The 6’1” 200-pound Colaiacovo is a former first round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs. After playing at least one game in each of five seasons for Toronto, Colaiacovo found a home in St. Louis for the past four seasons.
ST. LOUIS, MO – APRIL 30: Carlo Colaiacovo #28 of the St. Louis Blues waits for a face-off against the Los Angeles Kings in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on April 30, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Mark Buckner/NHLI via Getty Images)
While Colaiacovo is known for his ability to move the puck, he posted a mere 32 points in his career best season in 2009-2010 largely due to yet another injury. The 29-year-old has never played more than 67 games in an NHL season and averaged just under 65 games a season with the Blues.
Last season, Colaiacovo scored two goals and added 19 assists in 64 games. In seven playoff games, he added three assists.
Throughout Colaiacovo’s career with the Blues, he proved at times that he could handle himself in all situations. While Colaiacovo is not likely to get much time on Detroit’s powerplay and is more likely to pair with either Jakub Kindl or Brenden Smith on the third pairing, he does have some offensive ability which could be utilized should Detroit’s blue line suffer any injuries.
Colaiacovo told the Detroit Free Press, “It’s a great feeling. It’s the place, from day one, where I wanted to be. It’s Hockeytown; it’s the Detroit Red Wings. It’s a place, Joe Louis Arena, which I absolutely love playing in. First-class organization. It’s a roster full with world-class players. I’m just glad to be a part of that.”
General Manager Ken Holland indicated that Colaiacovo was the veteran defensemen the team needed to push the less experienced Kindl and rookie Smith.
Like Colaiacovo, Kindl has shown that he can play defense in the NHL at times. However, Kindl, a former first round pick himself, has not developed into the first or second pairing defensemen for whom Detroit hoped when the team drafted the Czech native.
Smith, on the other hand, has developed steadily from his time at Wisconsin to the past few seasons in the AHL where he showed a maturity that would have likely landed him on the big club with other NHL organizations lacking the defensive depth Detroit has known in recent years.
Despite being two years older, Kindl is likely the odd man out and may only see significant time if either Colaiacovo or Smith struggle.
Abdelkader is coming off a career season in which he posted eight goals and 22 points. Detroit drafted Abdelkader 42nd overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. While Abdelkader is not likely to develop into a top-six forward in the NHL, he has proven versatile when necessary, and downright difficult to play against regularly.
Last season, the 25-year-old, Muskegon, Michigan native is remembered by many for scoring the game winning goal that gave Michigan State its third National Championship in 2007. Abdelkader posted 62 penalty minutes last season. More importantly, on a team not known for physicality, the 219-pound Abdelkader was not shy about throwing the body posting 148 hits for second most on the team behind the now departed Brad Stuart.
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 17: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks to make a save while Justin Abdelkader #8 of the Detroit Red Wings is defended by Kevin Klein #8 in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena on April 17, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Nashville wins 3-1 leading the series 3-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
Abdelkader has played center and wing for Detroit in two full seasons with the Red Wings. The youngster has some offensive upside, but will likely be an energy center on the fourth line that may score 12 to 15 goals and add 15 assists in his best season.
General Manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press, “Early in the summer, we signed Darren Helm to a four-year contract. They were taken in same draft. Once we got Darren Helm signed, I know that Justin and his agent wanted similar term. We’ve been going back and forth for the last four or five weeks.”
Holland added, “Abby is a big strong guy; he can play left wing. He was a real good centerman in college and in the AHL, and he played some center last year. He’s versatile. He’s physical. He’s comfortable dropping the gloves. He chipped in eight goals last year. We think there’s more there, with opportunity.”
With the NHL all but certain to lockout the players when the current collective bargaining agreement expires on Saturday at midnight, the Red Wings wanted to sign both players before no moves could be made. Detroit now has 16 forwards signed for 14 spots and seven defensemen under contract.
Other notes: Faced with the prospect of the NHL locking out the players as the Red Wings players packed up their equipment on Friday, superstar Henrik Zetterberg told the Detroit Free Press, “That would not be fun, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it’s going to take. I think we did enough last time, in ’04. Basically, we gave them everything they wanted, and one of the reasons we did that was that we didn’t want to be in this situation again, and here we are again.”
Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins and Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings wait on the stage for the start of the NHLPA press conference on September 13, 2012 in New York City. / Getty Images
Zetterberg added, “It’s the third lockout in I don’t know how many years now. Ever since Bettman came into the league offices, that’s been his way to handle the stuff. That’s not a fun thing, but that’s how he approached this. We’ve been ready. We’re ready to have a fight here.”
In preparation for the lockout, Detroit sent 22 players, including Smith and forward Gustav Nyquist, to Grand Rapids because both can go the AHL without clearing waivers.
Share your thoughts about the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, and hockey in general with Rhys at Twitter: @RREsq. He can be reached via email at RhysJRichards@gmail.com. Join the many fans of The Hockey Guys on Facebook and Twitter @TheHockeyGuys