Dear Red Wings: Gustav Lindstrom signs two-year deal; answering inbox questions

Detroit keeps 22-year-old defenseman at affordable price

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - APRIL 15: Gustav Lindstrom #28 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at Little Caesars Arena on April 15, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) (Gregory Shamus, 2021 Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings have signed restricted free agent Gustav Lindstrom to a two-year contract extension.

Lindstrom, 22, was selected 38th overall (2nd round) by the Red Wings in 2017. He has played 29 games with the Red Wings since then -- 16 games in 2019-20 and 13 in 2020-21.

The Red Wings chose to protect Lindstrom in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft last week. There was real concern that he could have been grabbed by the Kraken if not protected. It turned out there was merit to that concern since the Kraken ended up taking another young Red Wings defensive prospect in Dennis Cholowski.

Lindstrom is a righthanded defenseman who has shown flashes of a high hockey IQ. Because of the low sample size and an unclear view of Lindstrom’s actual value as a NHL defenseman right now, GM Steve Yzerman was able to retain him for very little: CapFriendly reports the two-year deal is $850,000 a year.

Detroit now has five defenseman under contract this coming season on the team’s NHL roster: Marc Staal, Nick Leddy, Danny DeKeyser, Troy Stecher and now Lindstrom. Of course, that does not include the team’s entry-level contracted defenseman, such as Moritz Seider or Wyatt Newpower.

NHL free agency opens Wednesday, July 28.

Dear Red Wings inbox questions

First, thanks for subscribing to the Dear Red Wings newsletter. If you aren’t subscribed and you’d like updates on the team from me, subscribe below.

Here are a couple of things that have been brought up by subscribers recently:

What’s up with Riley Barber?

Riley Barber, a product of Compuware hockey, was drafted 6th overall by the Washington Capitals in 2012. He’s played 12 NHL games since then, spending nearly his entire pro career in the AHL. Note: Barber represented his country at the 2013 and 2014 World Junior Championship, captaining the United States in 2014. He was impressive in both of those tournaments with 6 points in each.

In his rookie season with the Hershey Bears in 2015-16 he scored 26 goals and 29 assists in 74 games. Everything was on track for Barber to become an effective NHL forward but he hasn’t been able to maintain a spot on a NHL roster, for whatever reason. He was with Pittsburgh for a moment but was traded to Montreal in February 2020.

This past year, his first since Yzerman signed him out of free agency to a two-year contract, Barber shined with the Grand Rapids Griffins -- 20 goals and 14 assists through 32 games. He has no problem producing in the AHL. To say he’s earned himself a shot on the Detroit roster is probably a fair statement. He’s a right shot coming down the right wing. He didn’t have a point in nine games with the Habs, and that was after he score 31 points in 39 games with Laval in the AHL.

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 19: Riley Barber #45 of the Montreal Canadiens in action against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 19, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) (2019 Getty Images)

Barber apparently cannot make that jump from the AHL to the NHL. Teemu Pulkkinen comes to mind. But the sample size for Barber is very, very small still. He’s 27 years old now, and part of me thinks we would have seen him with the Red Wings this past season if not for the wonkiness that the pandemic caused. Yzerman was forced to keep some players in Grand Rapids without being able to bring them up at certain points.

If he’s still with the Red Wings come September/October -- who knows if Yzerman has a trade or two up his sleeve -- then I think he has a real shot at playing with the Red Wings this season, depending on how training camp and the preseason go. If he shows up ready, in shape and hungry to make this roster, why not. He only has a year left on that contract, perhaps he can play his way into an even better contract, whether that’s with Detroit or not.

How would you rate the Red Wings draft overall?

I believe Yzerman and his staff did what they set out to do, and so it’s a success in that sense. They stockpiled draft picks, then used the surplus to trade up twice during the draft to get the players they wanted -- an exciting goalie prospect in Sebastian Cossa and another big defenseman in Shai Buium. Now, who knows if any of these players actually work out. The real work to develop them starts now, as we all know.

Due to the nature of this past season -- many leagues were canceled or severely shortened, etc. -- I think the strategy of using picks to move up at certain spots made a lot of sense. Overall, I give it a good rating -- an A.

I have never, ever claimed to know anything about NHL prospects before I even get to see them play. Usually the most I see any of these prospects play is over at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth. I didn’t have that chance this past season.



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About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.