Henrik Zetterberg plans to play just two more NHL seasons according to an interview he did with a Swedish radio station a week ago.
The Red Wings’ captain is signed through the 2020-21 season but it looks like he will retire with two years left on that deal. Zetterberg’s actual salary for 2017-18 is $7.0M but that drops to $3.35M next year and down to just $1.0M in the final two years of his contact per NHLNumbers.
“The only reason why we wrote such a long contract was because of the payroll,” Zetterberg told Christer Jonasson. “It is quite obvious that your try to fool the system”
Zetterberg will turn 37-years-old right after the NHL season starts, but it’s clear that he still has some left in the tank. The Swede was seventh in the NHL in assists (51) and tied for 24th in points (68) last season, when many believed he was over the hill.
Zetterberg can still play at a “1st line centre” level, but it appears obvious that his declining annual salary and the murky future of the Red Wings are playing into his decision to reportedly retire at the end of 2018-19.
The 14-year veteran plans on moving back to Sweden at the conclusion of his NHL career.
“[If] you ask me seven years ago, I’d probably say I’ll stay in Detroit when my career is over, but now it’s quite clear that I’m moving home,” Zetterberg said. “After about 15 years there, it has become a home, I have many friends and acquaintances there, but I miss Sweden.”
With the direction the Red Wings are headed, it’s hard to blame an aging veteran for not wanting to stick around. We went through it with Pavel Datsyuk already and in a few short years we will re-live it with Zetterberg.
In the final game at Joe Louis Arena, Zetterberg hit the 1,000 game mark and now the next big milestone is 1,000 points. Hank currently sits with 904 points so he needs just 96 more points to join the other 86 players who have topped 1,000 points in their career.