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Jake Walman gets the respect on his name with 3-year extension in Detroit
The defenseman has been one of the better stories of the NHL season.
DETROIT — On Thursday last week, after practice, Jake Walman was discussing his current season alongside Moritz Seider.
He went through the checklist of things that are true, but a bit cliche — they’ve gotten to know each other well, they both skate at a thigh level — before he hit the piece that really drives Walman.
“I think it's time to start putting respect on people's names,” Walman said. “You know, which maybe they didn't necessarily get it in the past.”
It wasn’t cocky or abrasive, a short line while mostly praising Seider, but it captures what the essence of Walman and his time in Detroit. He was looking for an opportunity, wanted to be wanted and wanted to given what he was worth.
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And on Tuesday morning, Walman got the long-term commitment he had been looking for from the team, signing a three year contract extension worth $3.4 million per season.
If Walman continues his level of play, even with a slight drop, it’s a great deal for Detroit.
Walman has and is playing like a top-pairing defender this season, his level of play has been worth way more than $3.4 million per season. If Walman had gone to market, he’s conceivably at least at $4 million per year player as a UFA, and there are certainly teams who would have paid that if he was unsigned by Detroit.
I don’t like calling it a home-town discount, because Walman isn’t from Detroit, but it does feel like a “belief and respect discount” that Walman took with the Red Wings.
He was happy that Detroit traded for him, he was frustrated in St. Louis and felt that he was never given the proper chance to be the player he knew he could be. He also wasn’t just going to take anything that was given to him, and on principle of believing in his own value, filed for arbitration as a restricted free agent.
Filing for arbitration is a weird thing in the hockey world. While it’s fully within a player’s right and it’s one of the mechanisms they’ve earned and negotiated for, some GMs can using it against a player or let it build a stigma.
In a past role I covered a player who had filed for arbitration, took the team to arbitration, and at the end of the day it created a stigma around the player that he “wasn’t a team first” player and should have just been willing to take what he was worth.
Walman didn’t care about that when it came to reputation, which is good, he stood up for himself and believed in his value. He stood up and believed in his value this season, while no one else truly expected him to be a top-pairing guy, he was always going to reach the spot in his mind.
The Red Wings respected Walman, he respected them back. And when it became abundantly clear that he can only continue to grow in a top-pairing role along Seider in Detroit — and just think about that flexibility that opens up for Steve Yzerman — the two sides found a deal that worked well for both of them.
Now when the Red Wings are back in town this week after tonight’s game against Ottawa, I’ll also have to ask if this deal ever got done.