Welcome to Re-Sign or Resign, a new segment covering the pros and cons of Detroit’s pending UFAs. We’ll be taking a closer look at each UFA while going over two schools of thought: re-signing the player, or letting him run free into the sunset. Today’s topic is elite faceoff man Luke Glendening.
Ah, Cool Backhand Luke. Feels like just yesterday that you were shutting down Tampa during the playoffs. Now you’re at the end of your big deal and the world is your oyster. Where has the time gone?
At 32 years of age, Glendening is, surprisingly, one of the younger UFA names on the Red Wings’ roster. Glendening has spent the last eight years of his career playing with the Red Wings, racking up 126 points in 544 games. Once an undrafted player, Glendening managed to fight his way to Detroit on hard work, determination, and a relentless urge to improve. Now, at the end of his four-year contract, Glendening could potentially find a new home somewhere else in the League.
Should Steve Yzerman welcome back the Michigan boy with open arms, or encourage him to explore new possibilities? Let’s take a closer look at both possibilities.
Veteran leadership can make or break a rebuilding roster. With it, you can teach young players the ins and outs of responsible play. Without it, you wind up like the Edmonton Oilers of the early 2010s; chock full of talent, but no leadership to right the ship when things go south. Glendening is the kind of guy you want around for the long run. His work ethic is near-unmatched: head coach Jeff Blashill often praises him for his ability to outwork his opponents, no matter how tough they may be. If Glendening can impart some of that wisdom onto the next generation of Wings, he may prove to be one of those difference-making veterans for the future.
Beyond his veteran presence, Glendening is no slouch on the ice. Glendening was one of the top shot blockers on the Red Wings, just a few shy of Danny DeKeyser’s lead In addition, he’s consistently one of the best faceoff men on the ice, boasting one of the highest percentages in the NHL.
See the little dot at the top?
Elite faceoff specialist and shot-blocking aficionado.
Of course, if Glendening is re-signed, it shouldn’t be for a very long term. At most, Yzerman should keep him for a year or two at around $1M AAV. By that time, he’ll be 34 and nearing the end of his NHL career. In addition, Glendening has mentioned that he is interested in returning to Detroit. This seems like a match made in heaven.
There comes a time in every NHL fan’s life where their favorite players grow too old to keep playing.
We’ve seen it with Yzerman, Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg…okay, now I’m getting sad, but you get the point. Eventually, the wheels fall off the proverbial wagon. Glendening was pretty solid this year. But, at 32 years of age, how much is a 4C worth? Does extending Glendening help, or harm the roster in the long run? Will signing Glendening block a young player from earning a spot on the roster? To help clear the air, let’s turn to the numbers:
Evolving Hockey’s model shows that Luke Glendening is…pretty all right. He’s scoring and defending at a higher rate than expected, but he’s done very little on the penalty kill to justify the time he’s given. He’s not going to leap off the page with scoring, and his defense is only slightly above average. Is he worth re-signing, even at a team-friendly discount?
If Glendening is re-signed, he’ll fill up the 4C role — a role that could easily be filled by a myriad of players. Chase Pearson may make a push for the 4C role in Detroit, and if he can make a case for himself, who’s to say who stays and who goes? Is keeping a 32-year-old veteran around worth it, even with his work ethic and history in mind?
Luke Glendening is not going to make or break this roster. Whether he’s signed or he leaves, it will have very little, if any effect on the standings. At best, he’s a serviceable 4C who imparts veteran wisdom to the kids. At worst, he’s a replacement-level fourth-liner who can fill in as needed. Barring Glendening’s urge to explore other options, there’s really no downside to giving Glendening another year or two in Detroit. Should he fail to live up to expectations, the Wings can simply scratch or waive him. Ultimately, this signing will not make a very large difference on the payroll or the roster itself. It’s up to Yzerman — and Glendening, for that matter — to determine his future with the organization.