32-Year-Old Defenseman – Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Ericsson Contract Information:
Re-signed with the Red Wings on a six-year, $25.5 million extension in November 2013.
Ericsson tallied his third goal of the season Thursday in a 3-2 win against Winnipeg.
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Jonathan Ericsson: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Ericsson missed the playoffs and part of the season with a finger injury last season, finishing with 11 points in 48 games. Ericsson is a solid, if unspectacular, defender that will typically score 10-15 points a year. While that doesn't typically hold much value in the fantasy world, to an NHL coach like Mike Babcock, unspectatular, steady defensive play is a highly-valued commodity.
Ericsson had a solid, if unspectacular, season in the first post-Lidstrom year in Detroit, posting 13 points in 45 games. While he may have been expected to contribute more offensively, he did steadily improve as the season went on and will start 2013-14 on the first defensive line. He should put up 20-30 points in 2013-14, making him a middle of the road fantasy defenseman.
As offensive blueliners go, Ericsson doesn't appear to have much forthcoming in terms of growth. Perhaps he'll earn the nod alongside Niklas Kronwall as the second member of the Wings' top defensive pairing, but the 28-year-old has never exceeded 15 points in a season and anything beyond 20-25 seems like a long shot even with a larger role. Further, he'll have a stable of offensive-minded competition for time with the man advantage, which also limits his offensive ceiling. Rolling the dice on a Detroit blueliner could pay dividends, but Ericsson is hardly the best option for that gamble.
Although it wasn't a big leap forward at the offensive end for Ericsson last season, he played a much more consistent game on the blue line and parlayed that growth along with the retirement of Brian Rafalski into a three-year commitment from the Wings over the summer. It's entirely possible that he'll be deployed alongside of Nicklas Lidstrom at even strength, which would make him a nice sleeper to bolster his offensive numbers this season. That's far from locked in, however, and it would be wise to keep a close eye on head coach Mike Babcock's defensive pairings during training camp as free-agent addition Ian White and prospect Brendan Smith could bump Ericsson into a third-pairing role with penalty-killing duty as his special teams contribution.
Tabbed by many for a potential breakout season a year ago, Ericsson was a colossal bust by most accounts and he appeared to lack certainty with his play in the defensive end. The season started off on a high note to the tune of eight points (3 G, 5 A) in the team's first 11 games. The aforementioned shaky defensive end work soon followed, and Ericsson started to spend time as a healthy scratch in the press box. The Wings signed Ruslan Salei to be a third-pairing option this season, so Ericsson will have to battle Jakub Kindl for ice time during training camp. In fairness, Ericsson suffered a deep bone bruise in his knee and that may have hampered him more than he let on. There's still a lot of potential here, but his leash will be short if he can't be more consistent with his decision making.
The Red Wings called up Ericsson in early March and that was the last he saw of Grand Rapids, as the Wings soon entrusted him with a regular spot in their blue-line corps. Displaying plenty of polish, Ericsson logged over 18 minutes per game during the team's run to the Stanley Cup finals and chipping in eight points and an impressive plus-nine rating over 22 postseason contests. With the Red Wings, he'll be a third-pairing guy for now, but down the road he could become productive enough at the offensive end to make a larger fantasy impact. With an opening for a point man on their second power-play unit, the Wings could look to Ericsson to fill the void, which would also boost his short-term fantasy value.
With Chris Chelios back in tow for another season at age 46, Ericsson may find himself in Grand Rapids (AHL) to begin the season. There's still tons of upside here in the long run, as Ericsson is a big, physical two-way blueliner with good hands and a huge shot. Keeper leaguers should continue to demonstrate patience with him, as he remains the team's top blue-line prospect, and Ericsson should have a regular spot in Detroit by 2009-10.