DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings have started off their off-season maneuvers with a couple of surprising moves on the defensive end of the bench.
Signing Jonathan Ericsson to a huge three-year extension was an amazement to some. Ericsson has struggled to become the player Detroit expected he would be. His disappointing 2009-10 season was followed by a solid season that included an impressive playoff showing, luckily for him.
Is one solid season and an OK playoffs worth $9.75 million over three years? Absolutely not. Detroit is taking a gamble on Ericsson here. This guy has not proven he is worth the cash. That doesn't mean he won't be, but it's not a sure thing. "Sure thing" players were available. Handing the money over to Ericsson at this point in his unproven career could be a huge mistake.
General Manager Ken Holland has made several large moves with his pen during his career that have paid off nicely, no doubt. The man usually knows where to put the cash. This one might come back to haunt him.
A bigger name in that list was definitely called for. But hopefully Holland knows something here that isn't quite obvious to an outsider.
Here is the obvious:
Ian White for $5.75 million over two years is yet another huge gamble. This 27-year-old once Maple Leafs franchise player turned NHL journeyman is not proven. Again, the Red Wings needed to fill the void of Brian Rafalski with some sure-thing defensemen. White is not one of them.
He has a few mediocre years with Toronto and only 17 playoff game appearances to show for a seven-year NHL career. Is this being too critical on a relatively young player? Maybe. But it's unclear what Holland and crew see in this guy. He's big and he has had his moments. But those were just moments. The Red Wings need a guy with more than just the capability to help an already good San Jose Sharks team make a shoddy-at-best playoff run.
As for Mike Commodore, well, Detroit basically plucked him from the not-so-major-league Columbus Blue Jackets. Who knows what Commodore can do with a real group of talented players around him.
He is a decent defensemen with a smart sense for the game. But again, he's short of being a proven force in the NHL.
At the end of the proverbial day, Commodore might be the best pickup out of the three. Getting him for $1 million a year is an affordable risk, and he might prove to be worth a heck of a lot more.
Overall, these signings should be perplexing to Red Wings fans. Ericsson should have been given much less. Commodore could have been $2 million a year and White is a big risk.
Huge risks make or break teams. Detroit faithful will either love these guys come November or December, or love to hate them.
Time to find a real backup goaltender.
Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is a news editor at ClickOnDetroit.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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