The Detroit Red Wings' legacy years have taken a break lately as the team has failed to clinch a playoff spot in the past two seasons and this is having a huge impact of what captain and superstar forward Henrik Zetterberg wants to do with his career. The veteran forward still has two years left on his current contract with the Red Wings, however, the 37-year-old player left his return open-ended when the regular season ended in April.
“Health is the key,” Zetterberg said. “If I’m not healthy, it’s over.”
Zetterberg told reporters he needed to evaluate his health, especially his back, and it seems that while he is set on returning next season, his contract could be cut short nonetheless. Zetterberg is under contract for three more seasons when he signed his 12-year contract back in 2009 (with a salary cap hit of $6.1 million; actual salary is $3.35 million in 2018-19, then $1 million in each of the last two years), but for now, he simply focuses on coming back next year.
“I'm in training and looking forward to a better season,” Zetterberg told the Detroit Free Press Wednesday, while back in his native Sweden, where he spends the offseason along with his wife and their son.
Injuries in recent years have hampered his performance and no one is sure that Zetterberg will be able to finish his current deal. If the veteran forward is not able to play out his contract because of his ailing back, or any other injury for that matter, the Red Wings will be able to place him on long-term injured reserve for cap relief.
Young forward Dylan Larkin, one of the few untouchables in Detroit, has proven that he can eventually take a leading role with the Red Wings. If Zetterberg is unable to return for the remainder on his contract, many people doubt the Wings would be able to name a new captain right away. However, one thing has been made clear in the past season: Larkin is a leading candidate when it comes to taking over this role.
“Whenever I will not be here any more, I think the guys are ready,” Zetterberg said at the end of the regular calendar. “I think you’ve seen that with the younger guys who are taking steps — Dylan has taken a lot of steps. This team will be fine whenever I decide to hang them up.”