DETROIT – Jonathan Ericsson didn’t want to leave Detroit.
On Wednesday, the organization made sure he doesn’t have to.
The Wings signed Ericsson, 29, to a six-year extension with $25.5 million.
“Of course it’s great security,” Ericsson said after the Wings’ morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “The longer you get the better it is. I’m really sure I want to be here and that for me was a big thing, I wanted to stay here as long they want me. I’m really comfortable in the city and really like being here.
Ericsson is in the final year of his deal that pays him $3.2 million a year. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
“I haven’t been anywhere else to compare it to, but I hear other guys coming here saying this is a top class organization from top to bottom,” Ericsson continued. “From Mr. and Mrs. (Ilitch), to Ken Holland and all the way down to the coaching staff and trainers, I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m really happy here so why would I take a chance to go anywhere else.”
Ericsson, who played forward in his teen years, is 6-foot-4 and was the last player taken in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
“It’s a great pick by our scouts, especially Hakan Andersson,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “To me he’s a unique player, he’s 6-foot-5 and he’s really mobile. That’s a tough combination. There are some defensemen like him in the league, but there aren’t a lot of 6-foot-5 guys that are mobile. Again, he’s 29, going to be 30 when this contract starts. He’s home grown, we’ve watched him from the draft table through Grand Rapids into a bottom pair defenseman to a top pair defenseman, so certainly a real important guy to our team.”
Like most of the Wings’ prospects they had him spend a number seasons overseas before bringing him to Grand Rapids where he spent three more seasons.
The logjam on the blue line was deep for Ericsson to break in with the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall.
“It’s taken time,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He evolved and now he plays on our top pair. He’s a big man and he can pass the puck. He’s smart and he obviously likes playing here or he wouldn’t have signed the deal and we like having him. It’s good for all of us.”
Ericsson raised his own bar high after his second short stint in Detroit and carried that over to a strong run in the 2009 playoffs, but then came some very inconsistent play over the next few seasons as Ericsson found himself in the Wings’ final pairing on D most of the nights.
“It’s not like Big E didn’t have his moments here where he struggled,” Babcock continued. “That’s most of these guys’ careers. It’s hard. There’s only so many stars and even those guys have up and down times. It’s no different than all of us.”
Ericsson is quite relieved this deal got done quicker than his last one, which was finalized just before free agency opened three years ago.
“I remember last time, it was a little nerve wracking coming near the end,” Ericsson said. “It was the first days of July and I didn’t know what was going to happen. Even though I wanted to stay here there were other things that I had to weigh in my decision too. It’s just really comfortable getting it done know. I don’t have to think about it during the summer, I know what I’m going to do know for the next few years. I’m really happy about it.”