July 19, 2024

Red Wings sign 2-time Cup winner Vladimir Tarasenko to 2-year deal

Vladimir Tarasenko, who just won his second Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers, signed a two-year contract Wednesday with the Detroit Red Wings worth $4.75 million annually.

Signing Tarasenko is the latest move in what’s been a steady offseason for the Red Wings. It started June 30 when they re-signed three-time Stanley Cup winner and 2016 Hart Memorial Trophy recipient Patrick Kane to a one-year deal. Then, they brought back Christian Fischer and Tyler Motte before signing Jack Campbell, Erik Gustafsson and Cam Talbot in free agency.

But it also saw the Red Wings, a team that had 13 players with more than 10 goals, lose some of their firepower. Jake Walman was traded to the San Jose Sharks, Shayne Gostisbehere signed with the Carolina Hurricanes and David Perron joined the Ottawa Senators.

The multitude of moves left the Red Wings with more than $24 million in projected salary cap space and the reality they could do something later.

Come Wednesday, they added Tarasenko.

The 32-year-old winger will be playing for his fourth team since leaving the Blues, the team that drafted him 16th in 2010, in a trade with the New York Rangers ahead of the trade deadline in the 2022-23 season. The Rangers also acquired Kane in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that same season.

His time with the Rangers saw him score eight goals and 21 points in 31 games before scoring three goals and four points in seven playoff games.

Tarasenko then signed a one-year deal worth $5 million with the Senators in free agency. He was part of an offseason haul that was designed to help the Senators reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

He scored 17 goals and 41 points in 57 games only to watch the Senators struggle for consistency. They finished with the third-fewest points in the NHL but traded Tarasenko to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Panthers.

Tarasenko’s impact was instant. He scored six goals and 14 points in 19 regular season games. That led to him scoring five goals and nine points in 24 playoff contests with the Panthers fending off the Edmonton Oilers to win the first title in team history.

Now Tarasenko heads to one of the NHL’s Original Six franchises that’s looking for a way back into the playoffs.

From the 1990-91 season to the 2015-16 season, the only time the Red Wings missed the playoffs came during the 2004-05 lockout. Since then, the Red Wings have gone eight straight years without making the playoffs.

But they almost made it this season. They finished with 91 points and were tied with the Washington Capitals. But the Capitals clinched the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot via a tiebreaker that saw them have 32 regulation wins versus the Red Wings’ 27.

With Tarasenko, the Red Wings now have a forward group that features J.T. Compher, Andrew Copp, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond, and Kane while having what CapFriendly projects is $20.042 million in cap space.

Shortly after they signed Tarasenko, the Red Wings cleared $4 million in cap space after trading winger Robby Fabbri and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for prospect goaltender Gage Alexander.