Detroit Red Wings: 3 of Steve Yzerman’s offseason mistakes in 2020

(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Detroit Red Wings
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Failing to sign defenseman Torey Krug in free agency.

At one point leading into the offseason, I had hoped general manager Steve Yzerman would refrain from signing defenseman Torey Krug for a couple of reasons. One of which was because coming to Detroit, Krug would be the clear number one defender, which he’s yet to accomplish at the NHL level.

Krug is a tremendous talent, but in Boston, he primarily played against the opponent’s second line leaving the pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy to handle the top unit.  Also, it goes without saying the Bruins have two of the top two-way centers in the game in Patrice Bergeron, who I feel is vastly underappreciated along with David Krejci.  Having a pair of reliable, elite, checking center’s like this only helps any defensive group.

I understood that the Detroit Red Wings have an immediate need for a premier defenseman, and Krug easily would be Detroit’s top defender. Krug mentioned publically that he was looking to ‘cash-in’ this offseason after signing team-friendly deals in the past to keep the band together in Boston, but he wanted to ‘get his.’  That scared me some; I was expecting Krug to land a long-term deal worth somewhere around $8-million per season, which discouraged me.

Well, Krug did indeed get his long-term deal, but it wasn’t worth nearly what I expected it to be.  The Livonia native signed a seven-year deal that averages $6.5 million per season with the St. Louis Blues.  Krug will fill the void left behind by Alex Pietrangelo, who also hit the open market, eventually landing in Vegas.

That salary number for Krug is very reasonable for what he brings to the table.  The 29-year old defender has earned 337 points over 523 career games while maintaining a stellar 55 Corsi For Percentage.

The flat salary cap due to COVID-19 certainly played a role in this contract total, but Detroit has plenty of money to spend and should have jumped at the opportunity to bring in the steady defender.

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Paying Krug $6.5 million as a 36-year old defender may come back to bite the team, but by the year 2027, that kind of money will be equal to paying someone $4-million per season today after considering the inflation.  If the Detroit Red Wings have indeed turned the corner by then, Krug could have been playing in a third-pairing Kronwall-type leadership role on a contender.