DETROIT – Pavel Datsyuk will be heading back to Russia in the next week or so.
And one thing Wings general manager Ken Holland didn’t want floating around out there were rumors of Datsyuk’s future in Detroit.
That’s why a deal was done before Datsyuk headed back to his native Russia, inking one of the league’s best two-way forwards to a three-year extension.
“To have Pav go home all summer and have the uncertainty and all the rumors that goes along with Pav being back in Russia and going into the last year of his contract isn’t the way we want to do business,” Holland said in a phone interview Tuesday.
The Wings and Datsyuk agreed in principal to a three-year extension worth $22.5 million.
The deal can’t be registered with the league until July 5, which is the first day of free agency.
“This agreement gives us the peace of mind that we have four more years of Pav, we’ve got more than four with Zetterberg, we have six with (Niklas) Kronwall and six with (Jimmy) Howard,” Holland said. “Z’s the captain, Pav is an assistant, Kronner’s an assistant and Howie is a goaltender who’s developed into a real important guy on and off the ice for us, a leader and a competitor and a guy that gives us a chance to win. The nucleus of our team is signed up through at least the next four years.”
Datsyuk, who turns 35 on July 20, has one-year left on a deal worth $6.7 million a season.
The extension, which has a salary-cap hit of $7.5 million, keeps Datsyuk in Detroit through at least the 2016-17 season and will make him the highest paid Wing.
Henrik Zetterberg, 32, has a deal that runs until after the 2020-21 season making an average salary of $6,083,333 million.
“Given how hard Pav works on his conditioning, day in and day out and Pav’s will and determination, I’m comfortable his game will continue to hold where it’s at for the term of the contract,” Holland said. “He’s a world class player. He’s in a small conversation of players that you would discuss being one of the best two-way players in the world.”
Datsyuk will make $10 million in the first year of the deal and then make $7 million the next year and $5.5 million the final year of the extension.
“We talked briefly when this deal is over he could keep doing one year deals like Nick Lidstrom, (Igor) Larionov and Yzerman,” Holland said. “I think from a security standpoint, Pav feels good about the security of a three-year deal and I think the Red Wings feel good about the security of a three-year deal. It’s nice to know we’re going to camp every year for the next four years and No. 13 is going to be out there on the ice.
“And Pav helps you win,” Holland continued. “He gets goals. He gets assists. But he does so much more. He’s a great shutdown center-ice man and as his career plays out he’s like a (Chris) Chelios or a Larionov, you just don’t gage his impact strictly on goals and assists, even though he is more than a point a game guy. He plays hard. He plays physical. He’s on the penalty kill. He blocks shots. We start out the penalty kill with him and 50-percent of the time he wins the draw and we shoot the puck down the ice. He does so many things. He steals the puck and next thing you know we’ve got the puck and we’re heading up ice.”
Datsyuk broke the signing himself on twitter, tweeting, “Signed 3 yr. extension. Detroit, glad to be here for 4 more yrs. Thanks to our fans, friends and Ilitch family.”
Holland had a few conversations with Datsyuk’s agent Gary Greenstin during the season, but both sides agreed that it would be best to focus on winning games and making the playoffs.
Holland met with Datsyuk a week ago and both felt comfortable doing a three-year extension.
“I wanted to be fair to Pav, he’s Russian and there’s a big league back home and there’s a lot of interest to get him to go back and play in the KHL,” Holland said. “I knew I had to have a security of a term that he felt good at and we felt good at as well.”
Greenstin flew into Detroit early Tuesday after finalized things with Holland and his client.
“I’m hoping that the game is growing and the cap starts to go north a little bit,” Holland said. “We gave him a little bit of an increase, but basically for planning purposes his new extension is a little bit more than what it is now, but it’s nothing that’s going to dramatically alter the makeup of the thinking of how we’re going to build the team.”
Datsyuk, who was selected in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the Wings, has 767 career points in 11 seasons. He’s won the Lady Byng Trophy (awarded for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct) four times and the Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) three times.
“Pav does so many things that helps you win, even as his career goes on he’ll continue to do that,” Holland said.
Datsyuk is a four-time NHL All-Star and was a nominee for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player in 2009.
He’s also been on the Wings’ Stanley Cup winning teams in 2002 and 2008.
Greenstin told The Macomb Daily that both sides were “very close” to reaching a new agreement as he boarded a flight to Detroit on Monday night.
This after Datsyuk tweeted on Monday, “Big day tomorrow”.
Datsyuk said during the Wings’ end-of-season locker cleanout that he wanted to return to Detroit and added he would still like to end his career in Russia.
“I would love to finish (in Russia), give back to my friends and fans in Russia,” Datsyuk said.
In the Wings’ playoff series with Chicago, Greenstin shot down a report in Sovetsky Sport that his client had reached a tentative three-year agreement with AK Bars Kazan of the KHL after his contract expires next season with the Wings.
“It’s BS rumors,” Greenstin said at the time. “He can’t talk to anybody. He’s under contract with the Detroit Red Wings. Nobody is talking to any Russian team. There are rules and he’s under contract.”