Zetterberg signing eases pain of Datsyuk departure

Updated: September 7, 2005, 10:33 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings accomplished one of their major offseason goals Wednesday, re-signing forward Henrik Zetterberg to a four-year deal.

Zetterberg's contract will count for $2.6 million against the team's $39 million salary cap this year.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the team offered Zetterberg a contract as soon as the league's collective bargaining agreement was finalized this summer. Holland said he then spent much of August working with Zetterberg's agent to get the 25-year-old player signed.

"I'm really happy that we got a deal done because we always wanted Henrik to remain on our team," Holland said. "He's a young player who has shown he can produce in the NHL, and yet there's room for him to grow."

During last year's NHL lockout, Zetterberg led the Swedish Elite League in scoring, with 50 points on 19 goals and 31 assists in 50 games for Timra. In the 2003-04 season, Zetterberg had 15 goals and 28 assists in 61 games with the Red Wings.

Zetterberg was the runner-up for the NHL's Calder Cup, given to the rookie of the year, after tallying 22 goals and 22 assists for the Red Wings in 2002-03.

His signing comes just days after the Red Wings learned that Pavel Datsyuk, another restricted free agent and a key part of Detroit's offense, had signed a one-year deal with the Russian Super League team Avangard Omsk.

Holland said Wednesday that he was told by Datsyuk's agent that his contract with the Russian team does not include a so called "out clause," which might have allowed him to return to the Red Wings.

Holland said he planned to stay in contact with Datsyuk's agent because the Red Wings retain some rights to Datsyuk until summer 2007.

With the signing of Zetterberg, the Red Wings have nine forwards under contract and have room for a total of 13, Holland said.

The remaining spots may be filled by other players currently with the team, or by veterans currently with other clubs, Holland said.

"I'm going to continue to talk to other teams," he said "I'm just not going to rush into anything because we don't have to right now."

The Red Wings open training camp Sept. 11 in Traverse City.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press