As the clock ticks toward the start of the NHL free-agent season, the list of available front-line defencemen is getting smaller.
Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom is the latest to make headlines, agreeing to a two-year, $15.2-million US contract on Friday, a source told the Canadian Press.
Lidstrom, who won his fourth Norris Trophy last week as the NHL's top blue-liner, was set to join a pool of proven defencemen that included Rob Blake, Zdeno Chara, Pavel Kubina, Brian Leetch and Jay McKee as unrestricted free agentsSaturday atnoon ET.
Lidstrom, 36, registered a career-high 80 points in his 14th season with the Red Wings to lead NHL defencemen.
"Nick has been the best defenceman in the game for several years," said Detroitgeneral managerKen Holland. "He's a big part of our franchise not only because his elite level of play and the number of minutes he logs, but also for his professionalism, experience and leadership.
"We're very happy to have him stay in Detroit for another two years."
On Thursday, Ottawa's Wade Redden andfellowblue-linerBryan McCabe of the Toronto Maple Leafs chose not to test the free-agent market when they signed multi-year deals.
Lidstrom said he and Holland agreed that holding the line on his salary would help Detroit make moves under the new, higher salary cap.
"One of Ken's arguments all along has been if I could take maybe less than I could have got elsewhere, we could still be a competitive team, we could go out and sign other players," Lidstrom said Friday from Sweden during a conference call.
"I wanted to continue to play for the Wings, but I also didn't want to take any less than what I was making."
The six-foot-two Swede has won three Stanley Cups with Detroit and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2002.
In other Red Wings news, it seems forward Brendan Shanahan will test free agency.
"We have made an offer to Brendan," Holland said. "I think Brendan wants to see what's out there, what his options are."
Holland added he made one-year and two-year offers to Chris Osgood but had yet to hear back from the goaltender.
"If Chris doesn't come back, I think there is a number of goalies that are going to become unrestricted free agents at noon [Saturday]that we are interested in," Holland said.