Philadelphia — The signing on July 1 wasn’t greeted with banner headlines around the NHL.
When the Red Wings signed defenseman Trevor Daley on the day unrestricted free agency opened last summer, there appeared to be more shrugs than pumped fists.
But the Red Wings will dispute any notion Daley was just a middling signing.
Daley has been exactly what the Red Wings needed and wanted and when they signed him to a three-year contract worth $9.5 million, beating out several other interested teams.
“A great signing,” said forward Henrik Zetterberg, the team’s captain, talking about Daley and another huge part of the team’s leadership structure. “He’s been around for many years, with different teams, winning teams, and he knows what it takes to do the right thing out there.
“He’s a good leader on and off the ice.”
Daley, 34, was part of the last two Stanley Cup championship teams with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With the Penguins extremely tight under the salary cap, there was little opportunity for Daley to return.
Daley said he was instantly attracted to the Red Wings after talking with general manager Ken Holland and coach Jeff Blashill, and being informed of the role Blashill had for him.
The adjustment coming over from the Stanley Cup-winning Penguins has been smooth.
“It’s my third time doing it, so I’ve kind of gotten used to it,” said Daley, of adjusting to a new organization. “It’s been good. Anytime you come in you have good people around you, everywhere I’ve been.
“The adjustment has been real good. I’ve been through it. The city is awesome. I love Detroit. I’m excited (being here).”
Entering Wednesday’s game in Philadelphia, Daley has played in 31 games with two goals and three assists, with a minus-10 plus-minus rating, while playing just under 21 minutes per game (behind only defenseman Mike Green).
Daley’s arrival has allowed the coaching staff to slot defensemen into roles and situation they’re better suited for, and not be placed in unfavorable matchups.
“He’s another guy that can play top four minutes,” Blashill said. “He’s calm under pressure, he knows what it takes to win. He’s demanding of his teammates. He’s just a real good player for us.
“It was a big signing because it slots people into better spots than we were (slotting people), certainly by the end of last year. The addition of Trevor and recovery (from injury) of (Jonathan) Ericsson were two big things coming into the year and a big difference.”
Blashill paired Daley with Ericsson earlier this season and the duo have become an underrated defensive shutdown pair.
Ericsson, with his size and defensive instincts, and Daley with his mobility and passing, have blended well.
“We’ve kind of found a way where we know where each other is out there,” Ericsson said. “Just knowing kind of where we have each other, talking and communicating (is a big plus).”