Tomas Tatar and Danny DeKeyser are the last two restricted free agents left to be re-signed. Both of them were key in the Detroit Red Wings making the playoffs for the 23rd consecutive time but deals have not been reached with either player.
Tatar had 19 goals and 20 assists for 39 points in 73 games last year, and DeKeyser had four goals and 19 assists for 23 points in 65 games.
With training camp coming up in about a month-and-a-half, should Red Wings fans be worried about the two youngsters who haven’t re-signed?
The short answer is both yes and no.
Why Fans Should Be Worried
According to The Winger Daily, Tatar was offered two-, three- and five-year contracts, and he reportedly rejected the five-year deal.
Tatar likely will end up with a 2-3 year extension. Five years was one the table but decided against it.
— The Winger Daily (@TheWingerDaily) July 23, 2014
To add to that, the Detroit Free Press’ George Sipple reports that the Red Wings aren’t even close to signing Tatar or DeKeyser.
This article is nearly 10 days old, but it’s still not a good sign when negotiations are going 27 days after free agency has begun and neither side is close to reaching an agreement.
The fact that Tatar rejected a five-year deal is a bit worrisome. Although, I can’t say I blame him. He spent four years in Grand Rapids busting his butt to finally get to the Red Wings, and I’m sure the team didn’t offer him a dollar amount he thinks he is worth.
But when you are dealing with restricted free agents, teams have the luxury of being able to low ball players since they have no other options.
However, a two- or three-year deal says “I want the option to test the free agent market and see if a team is willing to spend money on me.” Tatar has every right to want to test the free-agent market in a couple of years. Even after all the hard work he put in Grand Rapids, the Red Wings didn’t exactly welcome him with open arms, as he was scratched for eight of the first nine games last year as guys like Jordin Tootoo, Mikael Samuelsson and Daniel Cleary got playing time over him.
Tatar has to look out for himself first and foremost, but it’s unsettling knowing he might not be in the long-term plans of the Red Wings.
Why Fans Shouldn’t Be Worried
If you talk to DeKeyser, he will tell you a contract will get done by training camp guaranteed.
DeKeyser was taking part in the West Michigan Hockey Alumni and Friends event this weekend and was asked about signing a new deal.
There won’t be any problems. It’ll be done before camp. So, no one needs to worry about that.
It would be very easy for DeKeyser to lie and say everything is fine when the reality is completely the opposite, but I don’t think he’s lying here. Sometimes, players like to review their options and take time to figure out what the best course of action is.
This is their livelihood after all, and they need to make the right decisions in order to ensure they get paid as much as they can while they continue to contribute.
What DeKeyser has working in his favor is he was rushed right into the Red Wings lineup when they signed him in March of 2013. He never had to pay his dues in Grand Rapids; he benefited from the Red Wings needing a top-four defenseman right away.
DeKeyser also being from the Detroit metro area should be a factor in him wanting to re-sign. He never filed for salary arbitration as well, which should put Red Wings fans’ minds at ease.
Despite the negotiations being dragged to the end of July, I expect both Tatar and DeKeyser to be re-signed. They are too valuable to let go, and I think Ken Holland knows that.
Tom Mitsos is a writer from Michigan who covers the Red Wings and the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for The Hockey Writers.