Michael Rasmussen, Red Wings agree on three-year extension
Detroit — The Red Wings have secured one of their young building blocks — but the future of another supposed piece is a bit hazy.
Forward Michael Rasmussen, a restricted free agent, signed a three-year contract extension Thursday, worth $4.38 million ($1.46 million salary cap hit).
Rasmussen, 22, took a major step forward this season.
The 2017 first-round draft pick (ninth overall) played in 40 games, with 12 points (three goals, nine assists) and 26 penalty minutes. Rasmussen ranked second on the team with 72 hits and blocked 28 shots.
After an injury-filled season in minor-league Grand Rapids the year before, Rasmussen (6-foot-6, 229 pounds) came into camp healthy and confident after playing in Austria because of the ongoing pandemic delaying pro leagues in North America.
Rasmussen had six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games in Grand Rapids before being recalled by the Wings.
Over his last 20 games in Detroit, Rasmussen averaged 16:46 of ice time per game.
For another young forward, Tyler Bertuzzi, the immediate future is cloudier.
Bertuzzi played nine games this season before a back injury ended his season, resulting in season-ending surgery.
Bertuzzi, 26, is a restricted free agent, as he was last year, before re-signing to a 1-year, $3.5 million contract.
The two sides couldn't come together on a long-term contract last year, and could be facing similar fate. There has been speculation Bertuzzi could be coveted in a trade.
General manager Steve Yzerman was adamant the Wings would like to work something out with Bertuzzi.
"My goal is to figure out a deal," Yzerman said. "We want to keep Tyler here in the organization. We like him as a player, certainly like him as a person, and it's my hope we can figure something out that he remains with the Red Wings."
Yzerman brushed off trade speculation.
"Teams have called about all of our good players," Yzerman said. "It happens all the time."
Other RFA's the Wings must sign include forwards Jakub Vrana and Adam Erne, and defensemen Filip Hronek and Gustav Lindstrom.
Yzerman is optimistic all will get signed soon.
Yzerman is keeping communication open with unrestricted free agents, including forwards Luke Glendening, Sam Gagner and Bobby Ryan, and defenseman Marc Staal. Free agency starts Wednesday.
Staal appears to be a player the Wings want back.
There's a need for a left-handed shooting defenseman, with Dennis Cholowski being lost in the expansion draft, and Jon Merrill and Patrik Nemeth being dealt at the trade deadline. Staal can plug that hole.
A right-handed shooting forward, such as Gagner or Ryan, also would be strongly considered.
"We'd like to add a right shot, whether it's players from last season or going into the market, it's something we have to address for sure," Yzerman said.
Cholowski, claimed by Seattle in the expansion draft, was a 2016 first-round draft pick who never was able to secure a regular lineup spot.
Yzerman wasn't sure what the Kraken's plans were in terms of the Wings' unprotected list, but was willing to take the chance of losing Cholowski after acquiring defenseman Nick Leddy.
"We went out and did that (Leddy acquisition)," Yzerman said. "We weren't sure if Seattle would go after Dennis or one of our veteran defensemen. But ultimately we felt comfortable (after) acquiring Nick."