Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wings Sign Brett Lebda to Four Year Deal

The Wings have come to terms with Brett Lebda, 24, on a four year deal. Terms were not disclosed, and Lebda is not listed on the NHLPA site which usually lists salaries (being a two-way player between here and Grand Rapids last season). He had 12 points and was +9 through 46 games last season with the Wings, and was partnered with Chris Chelios for much of the year. He was especially strong during the Wings' short playoff run, blocking shots and getting in on offensive rushes. He averaged 13:08 of ice time and was +3 in the series. And if he hadn't hit the post so much in the playoffs, he might've been a first round hero. Says Holland:
"Brett was impressive in the time he spent with us last season. He possesses the skills I think will help contribute to the success of this organization in the long-term."
It says a lot about Lebda that Holland was willing to offer him a longterm deal, as Holland has said he is trying to avoid that during this free agency. Holland is still looking for an inexpensive, physical defenseman to fill Jiri Fischer's role. Update (Matt, 5:26 PM): Ansar Khan reports that the contract is for $2.6 million over the four years, broken down this way:
He'll earn $650,000 in each of the next two seasons, $750,000 in 2008-09 and $850,000 the final season.
Although the Wings are still looking for an affordable defenseman, they now have the same six defensemen signed that they used in the playoffs, as Khan points out, and could already start the season with a pretty good look on the blue line. The un-signed RFA pool is down to Jason Williams, Johan Franzen, Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky and Darryl Bootland.


At 7/11/2006 02:24:00 PM, Anonymous WI Wing Nut said...

Some Disturbing News from the tsn.ca "Ice Chips" Section:

The agent for goaltender Ed Belfour sounded optimistic that a deal could be announced as soon as today. "We are moving towards our mutual goal of making Ed Belfour a Red Wing," Ron Salcer, Belfour's agent, said Monday evening. - Detroit Free Press

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This offseason is about to get a whole lot worse.

At 7/11/2006 05:27:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

This is a good signing. Everyone talks about and hypes up Niklas Kronwall, and for good reason, but Brett Lebda is an exciting young defenseman too. The Wings' youth movement isn't just up front any more. Given the minutes and permission to jump up into the play, Lebda should help the Wings a lot in both ends of the ice.

As for Belfour, I'm surprised, honestly, that it's taking this long for a decision to come out, whether yea or nay. Some have speculated that Holland could be faking teams out since the Wings are one of the few teams left that haven't taken care of their goalie shortage. Teams like Anaheim, Buffalo and San Jose have the opposite problem: they're looking to trade. If they believe the Wings are close to a deal with Belfour, maybe they'll be more willing to push for a trade more favorable to the Wings.

Vesa Toskala is already saying he hopes the Sharks trade either he or Nabokov so that the two goalies don't have to face the question mark going into training camp. So maybe there's a chance there.

Personally, though, I have a bad feeling the Wings are serious about Belfour and that this isn't a ruse on Kenny's part. Maybe Crazy Eddie will turn out to be great. The same bad feeling tells me he won't, though.

At 7/11/2006 06:55:00 PM, Anonymous bn said...

Ah...I personally wouldn't mind it if Kronwall was traded. I doubt it would happen, but I'm not too impressed with him all the same. He makes too many simple oopsie-daisey mistakes that leaves me shaking my head and wondering "HOW?"

Belfour knows that he has a lot to prove due to the previous season, but I think he's the best option that Detroit has at the moment. If they do have anything better, they're definetly keeping it quiet. And I think it's important to keep in mind that they do have a very good backup goalie who has some playoff experience under his belt...

At 7/11/2006 10:08:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

bn, you have to remember that Kronwall has not played a full season in the NHL yet. Both years he has been up, he has gone down with an injury.

In 03-04, it was a freak accident that broke his leg in pre-game warmups. He only got in 20 games with the Wings that year.

This past season, it was a torn ACL in the pre-season. He played 27 games.

For the Griffins during the lockout, he played 76 games and had 53 points, winning the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL's best defenseman. Sure, the AHL is not the NHL but I think that should give us any idea of what he is capable of with a full season in the Winged Wheel.

Remember, defensemen take longer to develop than forwards do. Jiri Fischer took a few years and was finally entering his potential when his heart episode happened. Kronwall has 47 games NHL experience. I think he's doing pretty well.

Oh yeah, and he's an Olympic gold medal winner already (scored a goal in the gold medal game, in fact), something not many other guys at this stage in their career can say.

Belfour is the cheapest/easiest option, he's not their best option. For a team that just lost it's #1 and #2 leaders due to a youth movement, signing a 41-year-old goalie is lunacy.

I've been saying all along that the Wings should just go with Osgood and one of their young goalies if they can't find a decent deal for someone else. Ozzie is more than capable of handling the load, as you say.

At 7/12/2006 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Brian List said...

Let's all hope this Belfour stuff is just Holland's bluff so Toskala can be freed up for less trade bait.

If next season isn't the time to give Howard his chance, I don't know when it will be. The stage is set perfectly for an Ozzie/Howard duo. And Holland would mess that up for a 41-year-old goaltender who can't touch his toes? Think about all the times goaltenders got run last season...Belfour could not survive that. Legace was a pretty durable goaltender on that level. I don't have nearly the same confidence in Belfour.

At 7/12/2006 09:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok...if Holland REALLY wanted Belfour, he would have signed him already. Therefore, he may be contemplating about the signing.

I'm thinking, that if a goalie is worth doubting to sign, should you actually sign him?

At 7/12/2006 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

The Wings shouldn't need to rush Howard to the NHL, if they get another goalie for a year or two. Jimmy's only been in the AHL for a year now and the Wings obviously don't think he's ready to play the job of a full-time backup. Osgood has a two-year contract. Next year can be the Year of Howard.

As for Holland really wanting Belfour, it doesn't matter how much he wants him if they can't reach an agreement on salary. That seems to be the hang-up now.


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