DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings accomplished their No. 1 goal of the offseason Tuesday by agreeing to a $22.5 million, three-year deal with Pavel Datsyuk.
“It’s a great day for the Red Wings,” general manager Ken Holland said in a telephone interview. “He’s a world-class player, and there are no moves I can make to find players like Pavel Datsyuk.”
Datsyuk and the Red Wings reached the deal two days before his 35th birthday, keeping the Russian superstar with the franchise through the 2016-17 season.
He 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.
Holland was relieved the two sides agreed to terms before Datsyuk went back home.
“If we would’ve gone all summer without a deal, you never know what could’ve happened,” Holland said. “That’s his home country and they have a pro league that pays well, but Pav loves it in Detroit.”
Holland acknowledged he won’t be able to keep all of the team’s key players, including free agents Daniel Cleary, Damien Brunner, and Valtteri Filppula.
“We have an interest in all three, but they may have better opportunities elsewhere,” Holland said. “Not all of our free agents are going to be back because have decisions to make, just like everybody else in the [salary] cap world.”
Datsyuk led Detroit with 15 goals and 49 points in the 48-game, lockout-shortened season. The center was tied for third on the team with nine points in the playoffs, 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. Detroit extended its postseason streak to 22, eliminated second-seeded Anaheim, and led the top-seeded Blackhawks 3-1 before losing the series.
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.
As one of the game’s all-time great defensive forwards, Datsyuk has won the Selke Trophy three times.