This past week Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had a lot to say about Detroit in his routinely awesome 30 Thoughts article. In addition to discussing the Wings future as a whole, and Jeff Blashill’s future in Detroit he mentioned Niklas Kronwall.
As Friedman points out, Kronwall has 2 years remaining on his contract. The actual money goes down significantly, though his cap hit remains. Kronwall has been limited by injuries this year, and only played in 54 games. When he does play he’s not the same player he once was. This is something that is glaringly obvious to anyone who has watched him play in the last few years. He just doesn’t look the same.
So the question is, will Kronwall return to finish out his contract? Will he retire? Or will he be moved somehow?
Friedman asked Holland about Kronwall and his response was,
“He has earned the right to sit in my office and discuss what he wants to do. Even if he is injured, we see a lot of value in his attitude and what he brings.”
I think this is more telling than it initially appears. The Wings love having veterans around the locker room, and if the team goes ahead with a rebuild (or partial rebuild) that may be even more important to them. He does have a large cap-hit for a declining defenseman ($4,750,000), but it might be worth it to the team to have him around. If the Wings truly move forward with a rebuild they may have more cap-space than fans are used to, thanks to having more players on entry-level contracts on the roster.
There has also been speculation that the Las Vegas Golden Knights may be interested in claiming Kronwall during the expansion draft if the Wings leave him unprotected. This is primarily based around the need of the Golden Knights to get to the salary floor. Kronwall’s contract would provide a sizable cap hit, while not actually costing that much money, which would be perfect for a team reaching for the floor. That said, there are other players the Golden Knights could take that would be productive for them while also providing a cap-hit, and they may be more interested in one of the younger prospects the Wings will be forced to leave unprotected.
Kronwall is a classic Red Wing. He is a veteran who has given the team his all, and has been a fan favourite for years. We’ve all seen how Ken Holland treats these players as they age. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that Kronwall will play out his term in Detroit and then retire. Afterwards, he will most likely be offered a position in the organization, either in Detroit or back in Sweden if he prefers.
What do you think happens with Kronwall? Leave a message in the comments and let us know!