DETROIT – What a tremendous few months it’s been for Jonathan Ericsson. First the birth of his first child last month, and now the security in knowing he will be a Red Wing for the rest of his career.
Ericsson signed a six-year contract extension on Wednesday that will keep him in Detroit through the 2019-20 NHL season.
“I’m really sure I want to be here and that for me was a big thing,” said Ericsson, who will earn $25.5 million over the life of the contract. “I wanted to stay here as long they want me. I know I want to be here. I like it both on and off the ice. I’m really comfortable in the city and really like being here.”
The last player selected in the 2002 NHL draft, the 6-foot-5 Ericsson has developed over time into becoming a bona fide top-pair defenseman.
“When Nick Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart when back to San Jose, there was an opportunity for Big E and he’s taken full advantage,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He was a big part of our team last year and he turned 30 in March so he’s really coming into some prime years. He’s 6-foot-5, he’s mobile, he competes hard, he’s a real good shut-down defenseman, he’s been an important guy on the penalty kill, so happy to get Jonathan signed up.”
Despite missing 10 games with a separated shoulder, Ericsson has produced a goal and four assists with a plus-3 rating in 15 games this season. But his real value comes on the defensive end of the rink, where he leads the team – and ranks No. 13 among all league defensemen – in shorthanded ice-time. He’s grown into his role as a top-pair player along side Niklas Kronwall, and in the last two seasons, his minutes have gone up expediential. This year he’s logging more than 22 minutes per game, which is up from 17-plus in 2011-12.
“He’s home grown,” Holland said. “We’ve watched him from the draft table through Grand Rapids into a bottom pair defenseman to a top pair defenseman, so certainly a real important guy to our team.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Ericsson, but his persistence and passion for the game and the Red Wings has paid dividends for both him and the club, which showed a huge commitment by agree to such a long deal.
“When I got drafted this was a long-shot for me,” Ericsson said. “Just being able to maybe one day play for the Red Wings that’s one thing, but to be able to play here for I don’t know how many years it’s going to be now, it’s an amazing feeling. Being a part of this top-ranked organization for my whole career is great.”
Ericsson played on Sweden’s bronze medal squad at the 2010 World Championships, where he was named a Top 3 Player for his home country along with goalie Jonas Gustavsson and forward Magnus Paajarvi. While receiving the recognition, along with the bronze, was nice, Ericsson has his eyes on other hardware that could make this season much more fulfilling than it already has been.
“It’s a really eventful year for me, of course,” he said. “Baby, this, Winter Classic, possibly the Olympics and possibly a Stanley Cup, we’ll see.”
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