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Kronwall can take time to decide on Red Wings future: report

Defenseman will 'have spot on the team' if he chooses to return for 16th NHL season, GM says @NHLdotcom

Niklas Kronwall has yet to decide whether to continue his NHL career, but the Detroit Red Wings will wait on the 38-year-old defenseman, even if it takes the entire offseason.

Kronwall can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He led Red Wings defensemen with 27 points (three goals, 24 assists) in 79 games this season and is 47 games from 1,000 in the NHL.

"We're going to go about our business," Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman told the Detroit Free Press at the 2019 NHL Draft on Saturday. "Nothing really changes. If Nik wants to come back and play, he'll have a spot on the team. I don't anticipate giving you anything really until the end of the summer."

Selected by Detroit in the first round (No. 29) of the 2000 NHL Draft, Kronwall has 432 points (83 goals, 349 assists) in 953 regular-season games and 47 points (five goals, 42 assists) in 109 Stanley Cup Playoff games, winning the Cup in 2008. He is tied with Pavel Datsyuk for ninth on Detroit's games-played list.

The Red Wings could have openings at defenseman entering the 2019-20 season. Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley are under contract, but Ericsson and Daley each missed significant time because of injury this season. Green played 43 games and his 2018-19 season ended March 7 because of a recurrence of a virus.

The Red Wings have internal options in addition to the free agent market. Filip Hronek, 21, and Dennis Cholowski, 21, are highly regarded defensemen each entering his second NHL season. Madison Bowey, 24, played 17 games after he was acquired in a trade from the Washington Capitals on Feb. 22. Oliwer Kaski, 23, signed a one-year, entry-level contract May 28 after he was named MVP of SM-Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and had 51 points (13 goals, 32 assists), third most by a defenseman in the league's history.

"Before doing it through trade, I would look at free agency to fill those roster spots," said Yzerman, who was named executive vice president and general manager of the Red Wings on April 19. "We also do want to have some opportunity for our younger players to fill those spots, but we will look at free agency. But the player has to fit what we're trying to do. The value of the contract has to fit."

The NHL free agent interview period started Sunday, with free agency beginning July 1.

"I'm going to make some calls and see," he said. "There are players we're interested in. I'll get a feel for, one, if they have any interest in coming to Detroit, and then what the parameters are of what they're looking for."

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