– After a pair of one-year contracts over the last two seasons, veteran forward Patrick Eaves
was relived to score a hat trick of a deal Friday morning with the Red Wings.
“I want to be with the Red Wings really bad, and everything worked out great between Kenny (Holland) and my agent, and for me, so I’ve very excited to be back,” said Eaves, who signed a three-year contract worth $3.6 million.
“It’s just the people, the people in the organization that I’m with every day,” said Eaves, in an exclusive interview with DetroitRedWings.com. “Everyone is awesome, and I really enjoy all of the friendships that I have there. It was the people that really made me want to come back to Detroit.”
The Wings were active in locking up their own players prior to the start of the NHL’s annual free agency period, which began Friday at noon EDT. Besides Eaves, the Wings also signed forward Drew Miller
to a two-year deal and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson
to three years.
The Red Wings now have 20 players signed – 14 forwards, five defensemen and a goalie
– to approximately $53.4 million, which leaves just over $10.9 million that the club has to work with under the salary cap. The Wings also announced Friday the signing of veteran forward Drew Miller
to a two-year deal.
Both Eaves and Miller are 27-years-old, and have been with the Wings since the 2009-10 season.
Miller had 10 goals and eight assists in 67 games last season, and has compiled 20 goals and 17 assists in the past two seasons. The two-year contract is his first multi-year deal that isn't a two-way contract.
"Being unrestricted, we signed just before noon, so I almost went into free agency," Miller said. "It’s a lot of unknowns and you never know where you might end up. There are so many things going through your mind, so it was nice to get it done and have it over with. … Now I can enjoy this Fourth of July weekend.”
Miller also believes it was important that the Wings sign their own players, like Eaves, Ericsson and Nicklas Lidstrom
“I think it’s great to have all of those guys back," Miller said. "I think we had a team last year that could win the Stanley Cup, but we fell short. To have that core group back with players like myself, Patrick, Jonathan and the Captain, I think we can put together a team that can make a run at the Cup again."
A former Hobey Baker finalist with Boston College, Eaves has made a home with the Wings as a grinding forward. His has become a valuable contributor to the Wings’ penalty-killing efforts, ranking fourth among Wings in average short-handed time of ice per game (2:41).
Last season, Eaves had 13 goals and seven assists in 63 games, including a career-best four point effort in a 7-3 win at Dallas in December.
Since the day after the Wings were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals, Eaves told DetroitRedWings.com that he wanted to return to Detroit. At the time, he said that he loathed the angst of free agency. But Friday morning, as he and his wife, Katie, waited to catch a flight to a family vacation in Montana, Eaves was ecstatic.
“Anytime you can get one of those, it’s very special,” Eaves said. “It was nice to get that offer and that commitment from the team for three years. I was really excited about that and jumped all over it. … It’s nice to have it done before we lift-off and land out there.”
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