Kronwall set to sign off as Red Wing
Chicago — General manager Ken Holland is making phone calls regarding his available players for the upcoming trade deadline.
But one player he isn’t actively shopping, not surprisingly, is veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall.
Kronwall has played his entire career in a Red Wings jersey, has never wanted to play anywhere else, and doesn’t want to go anywhere now in the twilight of his career.
And Holland is fine with that. “I’m not calling teams about him,” Holland said. “He’s been here a long time, he’s won a Stanley Cup. He’s an important as a leader on this team.”
Kronwall, 38, is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
That is, if Kronwall continues playing.
Kronwall has all but confirmed this is his final season. There remains a small chance he could return for another year — having been as injury-free as he’s been — but it’s remote.
“We have young players in that room, and Nik is the type of leader, or role model, they can see how a pro does it,” Holland said. “You need veterans like that to show the way.”
Holland has met with Kronwall to discuss the near future heading into the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
“We had a good talk,” Holland said. “It’s my job to work the phones, and I will continue to work the phones. You have to see what’s out there. But I’m not calling teams about him.”
The other prospective unrestricted free agents on the Wings include goaltender Jimmy Howard, forwards Gustav Nyquist, Thomas Vanek and Martin Frk, and defenseman Nick Jensen.
Forward Dylan Larkin matched his career-high with 23 goals during Saturday’s loss in Buffalo.
Larkin’s consistency at both ends of the rink and growing leadership have been positive developments in a difficult Wings’ season.
“On a consistent bassis he’s been a real good player,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He gets a lot of ice time with it, too, so there’s a lot of responsibility, and he understands that and bears the burden.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Dylan has taken huge steps toward being that good, all-around center that you have to be to be a successful hockey team. He’s a huge building block for this team.”
Blashill talked recently about the progress of defenseman Dennis Cholowski and the way the rookie has developed this season.
Cholowski, 20, made the Wings’ opening night roster after an impressive exhibition season.
He earned considerable minutes of a rash of injuries to numerous defensemen, then has maintained that ice time with injuries continuing to haunt the Wings’ defense.
In a perfect world, the Wings would have preferred to bring along Cholowski a little slower.
“We haven’t had enough times this year where we’ve been able to kind of use him the way we would have liked to have used him all year,” Blashill said.
“Meaning, at the beginning of the year, we were so short on defense, he was thrown into the fire instead of using him on that 5-6 pairing, and on the power play, and starting him on the offensive blue line and easing his way into the NHL.
“He’s been thrown into the fire too many times, and all of a sudden, you lose a bit of confidence in that.”
Luke Witkowski and Martin Frk were healthy scratches.
…Farmington Hills native Alex DeBrincat, who some scouts felt was too small to make it in the NHL, continues to thrive with the Blackhawks.
DeBrincat came into Sunday’s game with 50 points (28 goals) in 55 games, and had three assists in Sunday’s game.
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, top, is checked by Blackhawks right wing John Hayden during the third period Sunday.