It isn’t hyperbolic to state that Moritz Seider is the most important member of the Detroit Red Wings as they enter the next stage of their rebuild. One could argue that Dylan Larkin is a bigger key to success, but he’d be a No. 2 center on most Stanley Cup contenders—implying that if the Red Wings ever turn the corner and become that again, he’ll have been supplanted by a new top-line pivot.
The same can’t be said for Seider, who almost immediately became Detroit’s best defenseman as soon as he pulled the red-and-white Winged Wheeled sweater over his head the first time. He’s the kind of player that championship-hopeful organizations must have. As such, general manager Steve Yzerman would be wise to lock up the former sixth-overall pick as soon as he’s able.
The Detroit Red Wings shouldn’t hesitate to back the Brinks truck up for Moritz Seider.
Looking over Dom Luszczyszyn‘s annual breakdown of the best contracts in the NHL, one thing jumps out at you: four of the most team-friendly deals in the league belong to defensemen who had their clubs sign them to big-money, long-term contracts just before they truly broke out. Charlie McAvoy, Miro Heiskanen, Adam Fox, and Cale Makar all saw their organizations skip their bridge deals and instead bank on them, continuing to evolve into cornerstones on the blue line.
The Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, New York Rangers, and Colorado Avalanche now have their No. 1 defensemen locked up for the foreseeable future, and on cap hits, that will only continue to look better as time goes on. By saving an excess of $3 or $4 million per season on these contracts, there is even more space to bring in talent to contend over the lifetime of the deals.
Detroit should be looking to ink Seider to a similar contract, where he can hopefully join those aforementioned superstar blueliners as a bargain lynchpin defender in a year or two. Unfortunately, it sounds as if Yzerman might have a preference for avoiding full-term deals, instead leaning toward four- or five-year pacts.
“I’m not sure I have a hard set philosophy on contracts. There’s risk in every deal. There’s short-term risk you lose control of the player. On the back end, the long-term risk is a lot of things can happen that affect a player’s ability to perform on a long-term deal. What is my philosophy? I try to make a deal with the player, try to understand what they’re looking for and what’s important to them, but ultimately, I’m comfortable. I like these mid-term deals.”
Simply put: that just isn’t the direction the more successful teams in the NHL have been trending.
Squads that the Detroit Red Wings will be fighting for a playoff spot for the next decade—the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and Ottawa Senators—have all locked in their cores for about as long as possible. It’s fine for Yzerman and Co. to dance to the beat of their own drum, but handing Seider a four-year deal, opening the door for arbitration just seems foolish. Players like this just don’t get walked to free agency in today’s NHL. Signing Seider for five years, then having to give him a big-money deal where he’ll spend more time in his 30s than his 20s is nightmare fuel for this franchise.
There’s just so much more room for the 6-foot-4, 204-pound defenseman to grow too. He’s already inside the NHL’s top 50 in terms of points per 60 among defensemen over the last two seasons, and only 29 defenders average more time on the ice than him. In a vacuum, these stats might not seem impressive, but one has to remember that these were Seider’s age-20 and -21 seasons. He hasn’t been a possession monster by any stretch, but the Red Wings, on the whole, haven’t been particularly good over the last two years. The odds seem good that he won’t remain a 3.7 percent shooter throughout his career, either.
Seider has all the tools necessary to be a No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman on a very good team. The future of Detroit’s blue line starts and stops here, which is why it’d be smart of Yzerman to ink the defenseman to a max-term deal as soon as he’s able. Not only is he showing growth in all three zones, but the native of Zell, Germany, plays with the kind of snarl the Detroit Red Wings covet as well.
The kicker, of course, is that Seider might not be interested in signing away the entirety of his prime years. There have been no reports indicating that this is the case—and Steve Yzerman runs one of the tightest ships in the NHL in terms of leaks or a lack thereof—but it’s worth keeping in mind.
However, assuming that the player is open to signing an eight-year contract sooner rather than later, it’d behoove the Detroit Red Wings to move on that as soon as possible. A bridge deal of any sort has a much higher chance of backfiring than the eight-year, $64 million deal Seider could likely negotiate at this juncture.
Statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com and MoneyPuck.com, while contract information appears courtesy of CapFriendly.com.