Red Wings: Adam Erne’s Contract Numbers are the Right Ones

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The Detroit Red Wings got another restricted free agent under contract, announcing Adam Erne’s two year extension this morning.  Per Elliotte Friedman:

When I made predictions about what each of the RFAs could get, I guessed that Erne would clock in at about $1.75M on a one-year “show me” deal. After scoring 11 goals in a shorter season and when the roster was utterly desperate for scoring of any kind, I thought that maybe Yzerman would do what he did with Bertuzzi and go shorter on term, watch how things played out, and since Erne is a UFA next season, get an extension done during the season if need be.

Instead, he did what others guessed which was offer two-years (which makes sense as well, avoiding the UFA season) and a little bit north of two million. Erne was the first of Yzerman’s “guys”, being acquired via trade back in 2019. His numbers exploded last season and he cashed in. Good for him. Better for the organization if he builds on it and becomes a scoring threat no one anticipated.

A Reasonable Deal for the Red Wings

Detroit was mired in cap hell for years until recently–when Yzerman took over and purged a horrible contract through a buyout (Justin Abdelkader) , let other ones expire (Darren Helm, Trevor Daley, Jonathan Ericsson), and then stayed very tight with term and dollars as he began to put his mark on the organization. The cap hit here, as some are saying it’s overreaching, is irrelevant.

The problem with the previous overpayments were the term involved. Go back and look at what Ken Holland did and then, look at what he’s doing now. Holland’s chief sin in cap management was offering longer terms with no trade clauses–something that absolutely hamstrung the team for years. Beyond that, Holland’s loyalty blinded his talent evaluation at times–a bad combination that saw the team hang onto players too long and leading the Red Wings into the abyss they’re climbing out of now.

Had Yzerman signed Erne to a four-year term, by all means, I’d be calling this a loss. The one or two-year terms for role players–which is what Erne is right now–is precisely what they should be.  Yzerman won’t be making any big moves until at earliest, next season–when the books shed some other big contracts and gives him even more financial freedom.

What about the situation in Vancouver?

After the Canucks locked up Jason Dickinson yesterday, their cap number was whittled down to a projected $10.6M with both Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes left to sign. Hughes is ineligible for an offer sheet–he has not accrued enough playing time in the NHL to warrant it. (Side note though–you have to figure the gentleman’s agreement amongst general managers would fly out the window if he were eligible). Pettersson–on the other hand–is open season.

The Vancouver Star’s Patrick Johnston wrote that the Canucks, according to agent Pat Brisson who represents both players, will get a deal done. He estimates that there’s about $12-$13M in wiggle room while it’s more like $16M after contracts hitting LTIR are factored in. This might be enough to pour cold water on anyone hoping for Pettersson to receive an offer sheet.

Pettersson is 22 and would immediately solve a massive issue in the Red Wings offense–a top line center. Larkin struggled a bit last season–but I still argue with more talent around him, he has less pressure to be “the guy” and will again generate the offense he’s capable of.  Pettersson would certainly ease that burden here, and easily be Detroit’s #1 center.

However, the cost to get him would be steep, especially if the Red Wings hit that magic threshold of $10,276,830. If Vancouver didn’t match, four first round picks from Detroit become their’s. If that offer sheet occurred, it’s expected it would be in the tier just below this, which would be the 2022 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round picks along with the 2023 1st rounder.

Going just upon everything Yzerman has preached since he took the job, he’d be giving up a lot of draft capital for him, especially in a couple drafts that feature a lot of top end talent. In return, however, he’d get a ready made, proven center that would sew up the middle of the Wings offense for years to come. So if an offer sheet would occur, the latter tier would seem more likely.

Certainly it’s intriguing, but I’m not sure how realistic. Vancouver has cleared what seems appropriate to get both signed, and that’ seems the most likely outcome.

But it’s fun to hypothesize.

Regardless, with Erne signed for another couple seasons,  the Red Wings have another scoring threat for the upcoming season. Now, it’s just Filip Hronek and Givani Smith left to extend.

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