DETROIT – And now there is just one.
On Tuesday, the Wings signed restricted free agent center Joakim Andersson to a two-year deal worth $1.465 million.
That leaves forward Gustav Nyquist as Detroit’s last restricted free agent that needs to be signed before training camp begins in September.
On July 16, defenseman Brendan Smith inked a two-year deal worth $2.525 million. He was the only restricted free agent to file for arbitration.
Andersson, whose deal will have an annual salary-cap hit of $732,000, will make $700,000 this season and $732,000 in the final year of the deal.
The one thing the Wings love about Andersson is his size and grit.
“I like smart and I like big guys,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Andersson last season.
Andersson, who’s 6-foot-2, 206 pounds, spent most of the season in Detroit after Darren Helm was sidelined most of the year with a back injury.
“We had so many kids that really improved and made us better,” Babcock said last season. “That’s allowed us to play better. We have more depth.”
Andersson, 24, centered the third line most of last regular season, registering three goals and five assists in 38 games.
He had a goal and four assists in 14 playoff games.
The signing does increase the Wings’ roster size to 24 and that will go up one once Nyquist gets his deal done. That’s two over the league limit and puts them close to $3 million over the salary cap.
Teams can also go 10 percent over the salary cap during the offseason, but that’s something Detroit doesn’t want to do.
The Wings do have a bit of flexibility with this year’s cap if they choose to apply Daniel Alfredsson’s potential $2 million in bonuses to next season since that cap number is expected to rise.
Detroit isn’t completely sure if Helm will be ready when training camp arrives.
Helm was limited to playing just one game last season due to a slightly torn disc in his back. He took part in the Wings’ development camp last week to test his health and it seemed to go well.
If Helm is unable to start the season the Wings could place him on long-term injured reserve and thus create a roster spot there. It would also allow his $1.75 in salary to not count against the salary cap.
The list of possible players to be trimmed from the roster via trade includes Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson and Patrick Eaves.
The Wings have had discussions with Nashville about sending Tootoo, who has two years left on a deal at $1.9 million a season, back to the Predators.
Eaves’ game is comparable to that of Miller.
Cory Emmerton appears safe on the roster if Helm is unable to regain his pre-injury form to center the Wings’ third line. That would more than likely secure Andersson to centering the third line and allow Emmerton to center the fourth line, like he did most of last season.
There’s also a chance Detroit could welcome Daniel Cleary back, but only if a deal can be made to shed salary.
“We’re comfortable where we’re at right now,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said earlier this offseason. “But if we do anything else we’d have to move somebody first.
“We’d like to do a move or two, I’m not sure we can,” Holland added. “If we can’t make a move I’m OK with our team, we’ll go to camp. If we can make a move and free up some money then certainly re-signing Dan Cleary is a possibility.”
If Detroit can’t trade players off its roster it could still trim them when the regular buyout period in August begins, but two thirds of those salaries would count toward the cap.
After the Wings were eliminated from the playoff, Andersson and a number of his teammates helped lead the Grand Rapids Griffins win the Calder Cup.
“These are great experiences,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in the offseason. “When you’re a young player nothing can be better for your development than going on a run in the AHL playoffs. It’s a roller-coaster ride, physically and emotionally. This is an experience we can’t replicate in development camp or training camp.”
Babcock credits Andersson’s and the other rookie’s quick development to coach Jeff Blashill, who was a Wings assistant for one season (2011-12).
“Blash is doing a heck of a job there,” Babcock said last season. “We haven’t had a team be a playoff team in Grand Rapids in a long time (since 2009). It’s important they win down there. We’ve got some guys that are really knocking on the door for jobs.”
The Wings selected Andersson in the third round, 88th overall, of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.