Wings secure Ouellet; Tatar, Athanasiou could be trickier deals
The Detroit Red Wings got one contract done Monday, but the other two involving their restricted free agents could be trickier.
They signed defenseman Xavier Ouellet, a restricted free agent, to a two-year contract worth $2.5 million ($1.25 million per season).
Ouellet, 24 later this month, played in 66 games with three goals and nine assists, with a plus-2 rating.
Ouellet saw almost 18 minutes of ice time per game last season. But heading into September’s training camp, it’ll be interesting to see where Ouellet will fall in the lineup.
Saturday’s signing of veteran defenseman Trevor Daley likely pushes everyone back a spot.
And with Daley, Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall on the roster, it likely means Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul (recovering from knee surgery) will be battling for one available starting spot.
Luke Witkowski (Holland/Western Michigan), also signed Saturday on the first day of free agency, can play defense or forward, also adding to the team’s depth.
Signing Ouellet means the Red Wings still have two restricted free agents to settle with – forwards Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou.
Tatar will take a chunk of the remaining salary cap space after scoring a team-high 25 goals (with 21 assists).
After making $2.75 million last season Tatar, 26, is likely to come in closer to $5 million in his new deal, given recent comparables.
Tatar is likely to file for arbitration later this week, meaning he can’t be extended an offer sheet from another team. But that also sets a deadline for both sides, as an arbitration hearing would be scheduled between July 20 and Aug. 4.
Then there’s Athanasiou, who doesn’t have the service time yet for arbitration, but could be a tricky negotiation.
Athanasiou, 23, scored 18 goals last season in 64 games and has scored 27 goals in 101 career games.
How much of a raise over the roughly $630,000 Athanasiou earned last season is likely to be argued by Athanasiou’s representatives and the Red Wings.