DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings accomplished their No. 1 goal of this offseason by agreeing to a new deal with Pavel Datsyuk.
Datsyuk and the Red Wings agreed on a three-year contract today, two days before his 35th birthday, to keep the Russian superstar with the franchise through the 2016-17 season.
“We’re obviously thrilled to extend the contract of the best two-way player in the National Hockey League,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “This deal ensures that Pavel will be in Detroit for the next four years. His accomplishments over the past 11 seasons demonstrate what a truly dynamic player he is. His work ethic is second to none.”
Datsyuk can’t sign the contract until July 5 because he was entering the last year of his current deal. Soon after the season ended with a Game 7 loss in the second round at Chicago, Datsyuk said he wanted to stay with the Red Wings instead of returning home to play in Russia following the 2013-14 season.
The center led Detroit with 15 goals and 49 points in the 48-game, lockout-shortened season. He was tied for third on the team with nine points in the postseason, which ended in the second round against Chicago.
He helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2002 as a rookie and again in 2008. Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall led the team during a rebuilding season well enough that the franchise extended its postseason streak to 22, eliminated the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks and led the top-seeded Blackhawks 3-1 before losing the series.
“We feel we have a tremendous leadership group moving forward in Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Kronwall,” Holland said.
Detroit drafted Datsyuk in the sixth round, 171st overall, in 1998 and he made his NHL debut during the 2001-02 season and showed right away he was a steal.
The four-time All-Star and one-time MVP finalist has 255 goals and 767 points during a career in which he has led a talented team in scoring six times. Datsyuk is sixth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list, trailing Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio, Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov.
Lidstrom’s jersey will head to the storied rafters of Joe Louis Arena next season and Datsyuk’s will too after he hangs up his skates.
As one of the game’s all-time great defensive forwards, he has won the Selke Trophy three times. The 5-foot-11, 194-pound Datsyuk took the puck away from an opponent 56 times this season, tying for the league lead. And as one of the gentlemen of the physical sport, he has won the Lady Byng Trophy four times.
Few have been better at dangling a puck or snatching one away, a skill Datsyuk has said he learned as a kid.
“In Russia, we had tough times. Only one puck,” he said. “I always wanted the puck, so I learn how to keep it and make space and get puck when other guy has it.”