It’s the news we’ve been waiting to hear for the past five months. Or maybe the past five years. Either way, Pavel Datsyuk made it official today that he’s sticking around in Detroit after his contract ends next season.
He has signed a three-year, $23 million deal to keep him in Hockeytown through the 2016-2017 season, though they cannot officially announce it until the start of free agency on July 5.
Take a second and just celebrate that fact.
With Datsyuk happily staying on the roster for the next four years, that means quite a bit for this Red Wings team, especially in the upcoming months.
First, it means that Valtteri Filppula‘s fate is almost completely sealed. With Datsyuk staying, there is less of a need for Filppula, or at least the willingness to pay him the reported $5 million he’s looking for.
Second, it means that Justin Abdelkader will still have a line mate to help him continue to flourish (though that will depend on how well Abdelkader follows up this season’s output next season).
Third, don’t freak out too much about the price, especially since it won’t start until after this upcoming season. The cap hit will be $7.6 million, almost a $1 raise from the $6.7 million he’s getting now. For a player that has been so extremely key to the Red Wings’ success since he came onto the team over a decade ago, this price is just fine.
Why is a $7.6 million price tag fine? He’s still making less than Alex Ovechkin ($9.5 million cap hit), Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million), Evgeni Malkin (also $8.7 million), and Corey Perry ($8.625 million).
Datsyuk is a core player of this team. Just look at their record for games without him in the lineup – they hover right around .500. Any time he is out with an injury, whether it’s one game or ten, there is something severely lacking with the team. Much like Nicklas Lidstrom, it’s hard to replace a player like Datsyuk. To have him coming back for another three years, it’s a weight off the shoulders of the players, the organization, and the fans.
We have four more years of sick dangles and jaw dropping plays. Relish every single one of them.