Detroit Red Wings: Yes, Jurco should have a 2-year deal


Turn the clock back to 2014. You read that the Detroit Red Wings lock up Tomas Jurco for a two-year deal at $1.8M for the life of the contract. Initial thoughts?

What a steal.

Great job, Kenny.

But that was a year ago. When the calendar turned to 2015, it wasn’t as kind to Tomas Jurco.  After being called up from a point-per-game performance with Grand Rapids during the 2013-2014 season, he responded with 8 goals and 15 points in 36 games. His follow up campaign was less–seeing only 3 goals and 18 points in 63 games.

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Jurco was slowed by a chronic back injury throughout the season, and there were times on the ice it looked like he was born under a bad star. Posts, crossbars, broken sticks–you name it.

When the news broke that Jurco’s deal was a multi-year, many wondered (or at least some asked us) if it was warranted.  I would say it was. And here’s why: This deal wasn’t made because of what was.

It’s made for what will be.

A Deal of Confidence

This is a vote of confidence from the Red Wings to Tomas Jurco. It’s hedging a bet that the past season was the anomaly and not the other way around. The plan is that Jurco will produce as he’s expected to produce. The rationale goes like this:

  • Jeff Blashill will get more out of him: As discussed before in other articles, Jurco is well acquainted with Blashill as are the other young Wings who played in Grand Rapids for him. While this doesn’t guarantee better returns, it certainly makes a strong argument for it.
  • Loyalty trumps all in the Red Wings organization: They’re not going to just give up on a player who’s only 22 years old. Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl are just two examples of players who despite major struggles, have been re-signed and given multiple chances. Compared to the aforementioned defensemen, Jurco plays a smarter brand of hockey that certainly warrants a longer term contract.  That leads me to the third point:
  •  The Red Wings blame themselves for Jurco’s slippage: An ironic point considering that the Red Wings are known for letting their prospects “over ripen.” But here’s a line from Ken Holland:

"“He probably was rushed through system a little bit quicker than we liked because of injuries two years ago,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He came up, had good numbers. He came back this year, and I think when you’re young and you’ve had a little success, it’s hard to replicate. We like his speed, he’s been productive in juniors, and he produced in AHL in second half of his rookie year.“This year, he wasn’t able to produce as much, but I think that has a lot to do with age. We think he’s got real good potential, but at the same time, with the addition of Brad Richards and the development of other young forwards, it’s going to create good competition in training camp for roster spots, and Tomas Jurco is player who has to claim a roster spot.”"

  • If worse comes to worse, it’s a sub-million hit to the Cap: Let’s face it, if Jurco doesn’t work out, the deal is a couple years and the cap hit is low compared to a Weiss contract. It boils down to the Wings either trading him away if it doesn’t work out or letting him go somewhere else.

Out of the four reasons, the last holds the least weight. Simply put, this is an investment in a player the Red Wings know has a tremendous upside. Paired with a coach (and to be fair to Mike Babcock, he vouched for Jurco as well–even through his struggles), and a stronger team in 2015-2016, we’ll all see that this deal is a win for everyone.

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