DETROIT – Daniel Alfredsson was sort of a big deal in Ottawa, but he also meant a lot to Patrick Eaves, whom he will be reunited with in the Red Wings lineup this season.
“He’s given everything to that team, just the way he plays,” said Eaves, who played three seasons with Alfredsson in Ottawa. “He’s earned the respect of pretty much everybody in the city just by leading the team by example and his work ethic and dedication to the team. He deserves it.”
Alfredsson, who has spent his entire NHL career with the Senators, agreed to a one-year contract with the Red Wings on Friday, the first day that unrestricted free agents could sign with new teams.
Alfredsson, who will turn 41 in December, has been a highly-consistent player throughout his career, averaging 25 goals and 65 points in is 17 NHL seasons. He holds the Senators' franchise records for goals (426), assists (682), and points (1,108) with 1,178 games played.
Alfredsson's career plus-minus rating of plus-153 is ranked No. 10 among active NHL players, and his 69 career game-winning goals ranks No. 8 in the league.
While his work ethic is undeniable, some skeptics believe Alfredsson’s talents have declined over recent seasons. Though, in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, he produced 10 points, including a team-best three power-play goals, in 10 games for the Senators.
However, Eaves and Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg are big fans of the acquisition.
“Man, did we land a big fish,” Eaves said. “He’s one of the best. That’s a great signing for us.”
Alfredsson and Zetterberg played on a line with hall-of-famer Mats Sundin when the Swedes won the gold medal at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino. A regular on the international stage, he’s appeared in 13 tournaments for Sweden.
“Our (Stanley Cup) chances are increased definitely with him in the team,” Zetterberg told the Swedish media on Friday. “I've played with him in the national team and have only good memories from there, from the Olympics and World Championships. Now it will be fun to play with him in the club.”
Eaves was a rookie in 2005-06 when Alfredsson put together the best statistical season of his career, topping the 100-point plateau for the only time with 43 goals and 60 assists.
“Actually, in my first game I played on the line with him,” Eaves said. “He took really good care of me.”
Alfredsson could make a good fit on the Red Wings’ second line with forward Johan Franzen and newly acquired center Stephen Weiss, but Eaves said his former Senators teammate can play anywhere.
“He could work anywhere, first line, second line, he’s still such a great player, but I don’t know where coach is thinking of putting him,” Eaves said. “He’s a special, gifted player. Just to have him in the lineup is a great thing for us.”
Alfredsson said during a conference call Friday afternoon that the 2013-14 season will be his last in the NHL. While it was a difficult decision to leave Ottawa, Eaves is certain that Alfredsson’s assimilation will be an easy one.
“For him to come into this locker room he should pretty much fit right in,” Eaves said. “He knows all the Swedish players very well and I know him well. Everyone will welcome Alfie with open arms in this locker room.”
Zetterberg added, “It's incredibly fun, it feels really nice that this is clear now. He's a really good player. He has really been a big part of Ottawa. This kind of transition, you don't see very often.
“We are definitely a better team with him.”
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