Red Wings sign defenceman Niklas Kronwall to $15-million, five-year extension

The 25-year-old Stockholm native had three assists in 16 games this season heading into Friday’s game against St. Louis. He has two goals and 15 assists in 63 career NHL games. “I know the kid, he’s a committed athlete, he trains, he works, he competes,” Wings GM Ken Holland told The Canadian Press. “He won the award as the best defenceman in the AHL at the age of 23, first European to do it. He played in the Olympics last year and played well. He’s a player that we want to build around.

“My feeling is that the only thing that’s held him back in the NHL is that he’s had a lot of bad luck with injuries.”

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Kronwall, who was limited to 27 games last year after suffering a serious knee injury, was Detroit’s first pick, 29th overall, in the 2000 NHL entry draft.

He will earn $1.5 million in 2007-08, $3 million in 2008-09, $3.25 million in 2009-10, $3.5 million in 2010-11 and $3.75 million in 2011-12.

“For him, obviously it’s great security and for us, you hope that over the course of five seasons he reaches the potential that we think he can reach,” said Holland. “We think he can be a very good NHL defenceman. In looking around the league, if he reaches that full potential, there are very good defencemen that make in the $4 million to $5 million range.”