The Red Wings have agreed to a 12-year contract extension with forward Henrik Zetterberg worth more than $72 million. The extension marks the longest deal given out in team history.
“Henrik is one of the world's premier players at both ends of the ice” said Red Wings GM Ken Holland. “This is a tremendous commitment on the part of the organization as well as by Henrik. We feel he is moving into the prime of his career and is another key to ensuring the long-term success of this franchise. We are thrilled that a player we drafted and developed will play out his career in Detroit with this lifetime contract.”
Zetterberg was happy with the deal and explained he has always been treated well by the Red Wings.
"I'm happy I don't have to do it again," Zetterberg explained to The Canadian Press. "I don't want to play anywhere else."
The 28-year-old Swede will make $7.4 million next season, which does not exceed Nicklas Lidstrom's salary, as the Wings promised Lidstrom he would always be the highest paid member of the team. But the year after that, in 2010-11 - when Lidstrom will either be retired or on a new deal - Zetterberg's salary jumps to $7.75 million.
"Our goal is to try to keep this team together," Red Wings vice-president Steve Yzerman said to The Canadain Press. "He's the kind of person and the kind of player we want in this organization."
In the first nine years of the extension, Zetterberg will be paid between $7 million and $8 million per year, but in the final three years, he is scheduled to make $3 million, $1 million and $1 million, respectively. The extra two years at $1 million each are designed to help to bring down the average and the annual cap hit.
It would be a surprise if Zetterberg ever plays long enough to fulfill the 11th and 12th years of the deal. If he retires after 10 years, he would receive $71 million, or an average of $7.1 million per year, which is considerably higher than the $6.08 million cap hit the Wings are assessed.
"But Zetterberg's contract is structured so that it gives us a chance to keep an extra player down the road," Holland explained to The Canadian Press.
The six-year NHL veteran has 17 goals and 26 assists in 45 games this season with Detroit, where he has spent his entire 400-game NHL career since being drafted in the seventh round, 210th overall by the team back in 1999.
Zetterberg had career highs last season in goals (43), assists (49) and points (92) and helped lead the Wings to a Stanley Cup victory, after which he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
In his rookie season of 2002-03, he led all freshmen with 22 tallies and 44 points but was runner-up for the Calder Trophy to Barrett Jackman of the Blues.