Detroit — It could turn out to be another shrewd day of adding to the roster for the Red Wings on the first day of unrestricted free agency.
The Wings added forwards Sam Gagner and Pius Suter, and defenseman Jordan Oesterle (Dearborn Heights/Dearborn Divine Child), but are losing another veteran forward, Luke Glendening.
It was a pretty busy day for a team that appeared to fill holes in the lineup.
Suter, 25, a center who scored 14 goals and 13 assists with Chicago last season, signed a two-year contract with the Wings worth $6.5 million ($3.25 million cap hit).
Suter became a UFA after not receiving a qualifying offer Monday from the Blackhawks. He instantly became one of the more intriguing players on the free agent market, generating a lot of interest.
Suter was also a junior teammate of Tyler Bertuzzi and Robby Fabbri in Guelph.
The team announced Wednesday morning, some 90 minutes before the start of unrestricted free agency, they had agreed to terms with the Gagner on a one-year contract. Terms haven’t been made available.
Gagner, who will be 32 on Aug. 10, played in 42 games with the Wings last season with seven goals and eight assists, with a minus-4 rating. He’s entering his 15th NHL season.
“It was kind of my intention all along (to stay in Detroit), I really enjoyed my time last year,” Gagner said. “Right from the end of the season until now, it was my thought process to hopefully be back with the Wings and really excited to get done.”
Gagner is a respected veteran presence in the locker room, and his influence among the many young Wings’ forwards was something the organization didn’t want lose.
“You need veteran players to help lead the way, but you have to be able to play,” Gagner said. “I still have a lot of game left. I kind of found myself in a new role last year that I really enjoyed, being able to play on the penalty kill and power play, kind of anywhere in the lineup in different positions is something that I will consider an asset.
“I’m just kind of looking forward to getting back there and helping the team grow any way I can.”
General manager Steve Yzerman talked last weekend about wanting to retain some of the right-shot forwards — Gagner, Bobby Ryan — the Wings had from last season, all of whom are potential unrestricted free agents.
But Glendening will not be part of that group returning.
Glendening, 32, an East Grand Rapids native and former Michigan star, has signed with the Dallas Stars on a two-year contract worth $3 million ($1.5 million per season).
Glendening spent eight years with the Wings after signing as an undrafted free agent, and grew into one of the leaders of the team, becoming an alternate captain and one of the best face-off players in the NHL.
But Glendening went to Dallas and Stars general manager Jim Nill, who originally signed Glendening when he was an assistant GM with the Wings.
Glendening’s contract in Dallas is two years for $3 million total ($1.5 million cap hit). Glendening was coming off a four-year, $7.2 million ($1.8 million cap hit) deal with the Red Wings.
Signing Oesterle will add veteran depth on defense.
The Wings signed Oesterle to a two-year contract worth $2.7 million ($1.35 million salary cap hit).
Oesterle, 29, a Dearborn Heights native who attended Dearborn Divine Child, is a 6-foot, 182-pound left-shot defenseman. The parents still live in the area, and many of his relatives.
“It’s been on the back burner the last day or two, so I kind of didn’t let them know until it actually came true,” Oesterle said. “They were pleased and excited to have my wife and I come back home. It’s something I wanted to be able to do. I couldn’t really sleep last night waiting to fin out if it was going to happen this morning or not.
“I can’t be more excited and happier to be coming back and playing for this organization.”
Oesterle said he looked at a few teams who might have fit with, and looking at the Wings’ roster and their defense, they have a good mix of veterans and prospects coming up.
“Learning from those (older) guys and being that second layer between those guys and the younger guys, I’m a mix of both, so I’m excited,” Oesterle said.
In 43 games with Arizona last season, Oesterle had a goal and 10 assists for 11 points with a minus-10 rating.
Oesterle, who played for Belle Tire in youth hockey and played college hockey at Western Michigan, has played in 252 NHL games with Chicago and Arizona, with 15 goals and 50 assists.
The Wings also added some organizational depth.
The Wings signed defenseman Ryan Murphy, 28, who played in Russia this past season along with Henderson in the AHL.
Murphy has played in 175 NHL games with Carolina, Minnesota and New Jersey.
The Wings also have signed goaltender Calvin Pickard to a one-year contract to remain, in essence, as the organization’s third goaltender, and provide veteran goaltending in Grand Rapids.