July 15, 2010
Derek Meech re-signs, still the league's lowest paid player
The Red Wings re-signed another of their restricted free agents today, as defenseman Derek Meech agreed to a one-year, $500k contract extension. Despite his new contract being the lowest allowed under the CBA, Meech was actually given a 3% raise -- his last deal was signed prior to the minimum being increased to half a million.
Excluding Doug Janik, this makes seven defensemen under contract. Ken Holland has made no secret that he'd like to sign a veteran defenseman to play as a #6, but his hands are somewhat tied until he hears if Mike Modano will accept the one-year, $1.25M offer -- or if he'll sign elsewhere (or retire). Even though teams may go over the salary cap by 10% until the final day of training camp, interviews with the boss seem to indicate it's Modano or a defenseman, and that even he doesn't make another move on the blueline, he's confident heading to camp allowing Brendan Smith, Doug Janik, Jakub Kindl, and Derek Meech battle for the final blueline spots.
For what it's worth, Meech has said that he intends on being one of the Wings' top six this season -- and if he isn't, he'd prefer to be traded. That's fair to say, being that he's been a Red Wing for three full seasons, and a pro for six. Like Kyle Quincey before him, he may just need a legitimate chance to stay in the lineup to become a valuable NHLer. If he doesn't crack the blueline corps -- and it's fair to assume that he won't -- I wish him well with his new team. He seems like a great kid, he never complains, and he's willing to play forward if necessary.
The signing avoids an arbitration -- the only one that was planned for the Red Wings. I feel like a league minimum deal is proof he should have gone... would the arbitrator given Meech less somehow? Made him pay the Red Wings? Demand he change his jersey number? Seems like it would have been worth it for the young blueliner, but once again he acted as a consummate professional and did what the Wings needed him to do. Perhaps he was sold on a minimum deal being easy to trade once he doesn't make the active roster.
Only Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader remain as free agents, but we've been promised long-term deals later in the summer for those two, so relax Twitter.