I fail to see how anyone can call this deal "bad" at this particular moment. It's not hurting anything. Red Wings have plenty of cap space to afford it, and lots of $$ cash left to improve the team. (No Kenny isn't getting Richards, never was)
How do we know what went on behind the scenes? It sounds like Holland wanted Ericsson for about $1.8 to $2.0 million. Ericsson is in the press speaking how he wants the chance to advance to the next level. Ericsson know's he'd easily get $3.75+ or more tomorrow. So really he took a discount.
Knowing this, Holland probably said:
"Okay, $3.25 then, but if you don't progress, I am packaging you up and trading you! - Ericsson, do you understand that I will trade you if you do not meet my expectations, right?"
Ericsson - "Yes Mr. Holland, I understand!"
[worse case scenario, seven months later Ericsson has not improved, Holland trades him with a pick/prospect for a nice return]
In this market, Holland can get a nice return on Big Rig with this current contract. This is called "asset management". It might not look good right now, but I am sure Kenny has a plan.
I fail to see how anyone can call this anything but a bad deal if not far worse.
The standard or precedent this sets is far more alarming than the actual deal, though the deal is a joke in and of itself. Obviously he'd get that kind of money on the open market, but you have to also ask from who? Teams that are struggling to get to $48 million? Some mid-level teams living on the playoff bubble? Let them pay him that.
I'd rather have a ton of cap space left and pay guys what they're actually worth. I'm sick of Holland signing the players we've developed to contracts they haven't earned that are based solely on hopes that they'll improve. Meanwhile, guys like Drew Miller come in here and work their asses off night after night only to have to wholly undeservedly sit in the press box some nights because we don't have enough roster spots. That's a crap standard to be setting, and it's bound to become more of an issue at this rate.
It's no wonder Miller supposedly isn't close to signing with the Wings right now. I figured that would be the case months ago. Why stay with a team for less money all while sitting in the press box so often, only to watch guys that were lucky enough to get drafted into the system make more money than they deserve and more opportunities? It's stupid. A better example of this problem as it relates to Miller would be Hudler. Talk about a guy who doesn't deserve the opportunities and money he makes...oh yeah, he had no problem making money in Russia for a year to thank us for developing him, giving him chances, giving him a decent contract.
Loyalty is a good thing, as is not giving up on your investments, but any good businessman will tell you that if something isn't working, you don't keep dumping more money into it in hopes that it'll get going. You improve or you move on completely. Ericsson has done absolutely nothing to deserve this deal. It doesn't matter if other teams will pay more. Someone will always pay more. It doesn't even matter to me that it's a weak market right now. Again, I'd rather be paying guys what they deserve, even if that means icing a team at the start of the season with more low-level guys in the mix.
Again, what does this signing say to Jimmy Howard? What does it say to Brad Stuart?!? What does it say to Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller? But more importantly, what does it say to everyone on the outside of the Wings development circle?
It's pretty clear: if you made it into the "Lucky Draft Club," you can underperform and be rewarded with beefy long-term contracts and seemingly unspoken "no-trade" status.
But if you're an outsider, you'll get paid less and benched first, even if you're clearly outperforming a Wings-developed player.
That's not a message the Wings need to be sending. It's the exact opposite of the message they've suggested they want to send, but they've been sending it more and more each passing year.
When we had the chance to sign Hossa for life at a bargain price, Flip should've been traded after going 2 years into his contract without the ever-forthcoming breakout year and they never should've even considered offering Hudler a contract. Hossa came in and played his heart out every night and was willing to take less than he was worth on the open market (even considering the staggered contract) to stay because he wanted to play for the Detroit Red Wings. Flip still hasn't played up to his deal in the context of this organization and Hudler showed how much he valued our loyalty and commitment by leaving us without warning to sign in Russia for more money. If we had said goodbye to them when we should have, we'd still have Hossa and a guy like Miller who's worked incredibly hard to earn a spot on this team wouldn't have to worry about sitting in the press box while a midget who can't get his head straight eats up ice time and salary cap.
This system isn't working.
Even when considering our relative success over the years, it's more in spite of some of these guys than anything. Who in their right mind would say that Hudler helped this team last year? At this point, besides Flip's little fan club, who wouldn't rather have Hossa and Miller in the lineup every night rather than Flip and Hudler? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Right.
Holland has always stressed "VALUE!" He's been preaching this for years, and for quite a bit of time, he seemed to do a good job of managing to live out what he was preaching. Kronwall's deal raised some eyebrows but he was always a premier prospect who never struggled on the ice so much as staying on and avoiding injuries. But Flip's deal, while not horrible hasn't been great and has caused us to miss better opportunities. Hudler's deal is not completely stupid only because it's just 2 years, but again, it caused us to miss opportunities. Franzen's cap number seems great, but over the long term? It might not be worth it based on the style he plays and his struggles with injury. On top of that, he's also found a way to simply struggle this past season. Given his one-dimensional play and relatively new success, it probably would've made more sense to have a bit higher cap hit but shorter term on the deal.
What happened to the time when someone like Dan Cleary came in on the cheap, played hard, earned a regular spot, earned more ice time, earned bigger opportunities, and then signed reasonable contracts? Eaves and Miller are the same story, except they didn't get more ice time, were not given more opportunities, and it's looking like there's a good chance that at least one of them won't be signing here again. Why? So Hudler can have a shot because we've invested more in him over the years? So Flip can maybe finally have a breakout year to justify his generous contract? So Franzen can be a sniper that doubles as a pylon in our zone and not score goals?
Where's the accountability in this system?
And really, this is the 2nd time in 3 years that we've screwed ourselves over before free agency hits. Holland admittedly was caught off guard two summers ago and I think it's clear by today's signing that he's been caught off guard again. There's no way in hell that I believe Holland would have signed Ericsson for this kind of money if he wasn't flat-out scared (or if this is all part of some crazy sign and trade, at which point all of this frustration will have been for naught...but I doubt it). If Ericsson is the best he can do for $3.25 million, we are not in good shape. Hell, if Ericsson is the best he can do for $1 million, we are not in good shape.
Again, Holland has always pushed value, and he's typically delivered. He and his team have done a great job of bringing in these under the radar guys and older guys on the cheap and getting a lot out of them. He bounced back two summers ago because of this skill and landed two solid guys in Eaves and Bertuzzi, and then later he brought in Miller. Only one of his long-term prospect contracts has worked out economically in the context of the Wings system, and that's Kronwall's deal, and he was and is a different kind of player. His other three similar signings have progressively gone from weak to terrible.
This really has to stop. It's getting worse, and it's going to continue to cause us to miss out on better players. Signing Ericsson at $3.25 million just profoundly devalued the Red Wings product. Devaluing your product is a huge mistake in any business; it may be the biggest mistake a business can make! How on earth is the same team going that signed Brad Stuart for $3.75 million/year starting 3 years ago and Jonathon Ericsson for $3.25 million/year for Ericsson now going to land another player of Stuart's quality for less than $5-6 million? Why should anyone take a discount to come here if Jonathon Ericsson is making $3.25 million a year? And again, you think Jimmy Howard isn't more than a little pissed off right about now?
And Babcock...he really must be livid.
Holland's once again been caught moving too slow, unwilling to take chances, unwilling to move guys we've invested in despite underperformance, and generally lacking in any sort of foresight. Not only has he failed to make moves that would have helped the team as the seasons have gone on, he's failed to set the team up to enter free agency with poise should he have more serious holes to fill. If he didn't really see at least the potential for Rafalski's retirement coming, then he's definitely slipping. I wonder though, because again, what did he do to help set us up to be ready beforehand, let alone in the last month since we've known? What do we have to show for it thus far?
Jonathon Ericsson has signed a 3-year, $9.75 million deal.
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