On Feb. 25, the Detroit Red Wings signed 22-year-old defenseman Brian Lashoff to a three-year extension, which according to Ansar Khan at MLive.com is worth $2.175M. This deal was a brilliant move by the Red Wings' front office. It is a low-cost gamble that could pay huge dividends in the future.
Lashoff was called up to Detroit on Jan. 21 due to all the defensive injuries. He made himself invaluable by playing a smart defensive game and focusing on playing it safe from his own end. At one point, he was even paired with top Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall.
“Great game out of Lashoff. I thought he was incredible,'' coach Mike Babcock said. “Actually, I thought he was better here than in the American League, maybe because the game's more organized. But he made good decisions.
“He's a big man (6-3, 208), he showed good hands, was great on the penalty kill -- four-on-three penalty with him, Pav (Datsyuk) and (Henrik Zetterberg) on it, he did a heck of a job."
Lashoff has three points (one goal and two assists) and is a minus-four for the season, but is logging 18:54 minutes of ice time—which is impressive for a rookie. Lashoff may develop a little more offensive ability as he gets older, but for now he realizes that the Red Wings likely want him to focus on defense first. This would allow his defensive partner to jump into the action.
Lashoff has the ability to play the puck with a decent pass out of his zone, and could be counted on in the future to handle more of an offensive role. Though throughout his new deal, expect Lashoff to remain steady and efficient on his end.
In many ways, Lashoff reminds me of Jamie Macoun, the defenseman who was acquired by the Red Wings in 1998.
With the Red Wings, Macoun was considered a steady stay-at-home defenseman who was happier staying back than joining the rush. When the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1998, Macoun had two goals and two assists, which was an offensive spurt for him. During the following season, Macoun played in 69 games, had 12 points (one goal and 11 assists) and was a minus-one.
Other defensemen may get the glory by scoring points or sacrificing position for the big hit, but all successful teams need a steady defensemen. Macoun and Lashoff are perfect examples of players whose contributions won't appear in the box scores, but quietly helped their teams win.
Lashoff may not get the credit for his ability in the press, but his teammates know how critical he's been so far this year. Kronwall spoke with Brendan Savage at MLive.com on Feb. 9 about Lashoff's contributions to the Red Wings this season:
"He's been huge for us," said veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has been paired alongside Lashoff since he joined the Red Wings. "He's playing a lot of minutes, killing a lot of penalties. He's not maybe a flashy guy but he's getting the job done every night, making the right decision all the time.
"Lash has been unbelievable ever since he got here in that first game that he joined us in Columbus. He's played really mature, making the easy play with the right decision. He's strong in his own zone and wins a lot of battles one-on-one. He's huge for us on the PK, can't say enough good things about him.
"I'm really impressed with him so far. He's real easy to play with, making it easy on you."
With Lashoff's new security of a three-year deal, his teammates and coaches will be happy to have him in a Red Wings uniform for the foreseeable future.
Lashoff is a player who can grow with the Red Wings and could eventually become a key veteran in the future. That is why this extension has no downside.
*All statistics are as of Feb. 26