DETROIT >> Midway through his three-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings, it became quite clear that Jordin Tootoo’s services weren’t needed anymore.
On Wednesday, the team took the first step in parting ways with the physical veteran forward by placing him on waivers that’ll eventually lead to the Wings using their final compliance buyout on the 31-year-old.
“We signed him with the intention of him bringing some key ingredients to the lineup and that first year he did and helped us get into the playoffs,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview Wednesday. “When I went out last year and signed Daniel Alfredsson, (Todd) Bertuzzi was healthy and we had Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, eventually Mike Babcock didn’t see a fit in the lineup for him.”
Tootoo, who has one left on a deal worth $1.9 million, has until noon Thursday to clear. After he clears, which is very likely, the Wings will buy out the final year of his deal making Tootoo an unrestricted free agent.
“We don’t want to pay someone the kind of money he’s making to play in the American League,” Holland said. “He doesn’t want to be in the American League. He wants another opportunity to be in the National Hockey League.
“After talking to Mike he thinks with the development of our kids we’re better served that they can bring certain things to the table so it all added up to doing this,” Holland continued. “I told Toots at the end of the year if we didn’t have a plan for him to be in Detroit next year that it would be in his best interest and ours to place him on waivers. This is step one.”
When he’s bought out Detroit will owe him two-thirds ($1.33 million) of his remaining deal spread out over the next two seasons.
His contract will no longer count against the salary cap.
Holland said two weeks ago they would try and trade Tootoo at the entry draft, June 27-28 in Philadelphia, but calls for his services must have not come.
“I’ve been through a lot of shit over the years,” Tootoo said at training camp last season. “This is what makes you a stronger person, both on and off the ice. It’s about mentally being strong and having the will and courage to overcome hard times.”
Tootoo was a salary-cap and roster size casualty last season, along with Patrick Eaves and Cory Emmerton. He was assigned to Grand Rapids on Nov. 14.
He was recalled in March and played one more game in Detroit.
With the Griffins he had six goals, 12 assists and 104 penalty minutes in 51 games. He had appeared in one of their first round playoff games this season.
In two seasons with Detroit, Tootoo, who inked a three-year deal worth $5.7 million on July 1, 2012, played in 53 games with three goals and six assists and 83 penalty minutes.
His name was bantered about last offseason as possibly heading back to Nashville in a trade that would help Detroit free up cap space and trim its roster down.
The Wings used the first of two cap compliance buyouts last season when they shed the contract of Carlo Colaiacovo, who had one year left on a $2.5 million a season deal.
Tootoo, who spent his first eight seasons in the league with the Predators, was brought in to provide an abrasive element to the fourth line, but found himself behind players like Luke Glendening last season.
Tootoo played in just one of the Wings’ 14 playoff games two seasons ago. He was also a healthy scratch in six of the final 23 games in the regular season a year ago.
In his only appearance in the playoffs he recorded the Wings’ first penalty of the series for a crosscheck that Anaheim promptly scored on just four seconds into the man advantage.
Despite it being a lockout-shortened 48-game regular season his first year in Detroit, Tootoo registered his highest total of fighting majors, eight, since totaling 10 in the 2008-09 season with Nashville.