Will Datsyuk return to Detroit? Only if Yzerman, Wings want him
Agent Dan Milstein says of his client, former Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk, above: “He would never under any circumstances consider any other club but the Detroit Red Wings.”
Detroit favorite Pavel Datsyuk has announced via Twitter that he would not be returning to SKA St. Petersburg of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, where he has played for the past three seasons.
So what’s next – a return to the Red Wings, now managed by his old teammate, Steve Yzerman?
“He would never under any circumstances consider any other club but the Detroit Red Wings,” Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, told www.mlive.com. “He was very clear about that when he was leaving (Detroit) and through the conversations, it would be Detroit or nothing.”
Mlive’s Ansar Khan wrote: “A Red Wings source said former general manager Ken Holland brought up the possibility of bringing Datsyuk back in organizational meetings last season, with mixed feedback. It is unclear if new GM Steve Yzerman is interested, but he wouldn’t be allowed to comment publicly.”
“Pavel obviously respects (Yzerman) so much,” Milstein said. “He was one of the first guys to ask me to send him a note on his behalf to congratulate him after he got the job in Detroit, but I haven’t had any business conversations since Steve took over the Detroit Red Wings.
“If Pavel wants to come back to the NHL, the only phone call I would make would be to Steve Yzerman.”
Milstein said Datsyuk and his family will be in Detroit later this week for a three-week visit in the U.S. to see friends. His visit will include a tour of the new Little Caesars Arena.
Datsyuk will turn 41 on July 20. His NHL rights are held by the Arizona Coyotes until July 1. Detroit traded them to Arizona after Datsyuk left the Red Wings following the 2015-16 season. Datsyuk had one year left on his contract, and his scheduled salary of $7.5 million would have counted against Detroit’s salary cap for the 2016-17 season.
The Red Wings moved down four sports in the 2016 draft, from 16th to 20th, but received an extra second-round pick in the deal. The Coyotes took defenseman Jacob Chychrun. The Red Wings selected defensemen Dennis Cholowski (No. 20) and Filip Hronek (No. 53).
Datsyuk returned to Russia to be closest to his oldest daughter, who lives with his ex-wife.
“(Datsyuk) is healthy, had a fairly good season and feels he wants to play for two more seasons,” Milstein said.
Datsyuk had 12 goals and 42 points in 54 games and a goal and seven points in 12 playoff games this past season.
He had 32 goals and 111 points in 135 games with SKA St. Petersburg over the past three seasons.
“He might be a little bit slower, but his hockey sense and the way he plays is still something that the 20-year-olds wish that they would have,” Milstein said. “Many teams would have high interest in getting Pavel Datsyuk despite his age.”
This time the Red Wings have plenty of cap space. The team is almost $12 million under next season's expected salary cap of $83 million.
Datsyuk scored 16 goals and 44 points in 66 games in his final NHL season and totaled 314 goals and 918 points in 953 regular-season games from 2001-02 to 2015-16.
He helped the Red Wings win two Stanley Cups, and he won three Selke trophies as the best defensive forward in the NHL and four Lady Byng trophies as the league’s most gentlemanly player.
He won an Olympic gold medal with the Olympic Athletes from Russia in 2018, and also won the KHL's Gagarin Cup in 2017.
Veleno signs with Wings
The Red Wings signed 19-year-old center Joe Veleno to a three-year entry-level contract.
Veleno, 6-1 and 191 pounds, was Detroit’s second first-round draft pick in 2018 (30th overall). The Wings took Filip Zadina with the sixth overall pick.
Veleno had 42 goals and 104 points – fourth in the league – and was plus-63 in 59 games this past season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He added eight goals and 17 points in 16 playoff games.