You don’t have to be a University of Michigan alumnus to play center for the Detroit Red Wings. But it definitely doesn’t hurt your chances.
J.T. Compher became the third former Wolverines center to join the Red Wings Saturday when he signed a five-year free agent contract worth $5.1 million per season. He joins fellow Michigan alums Dylan Larkin and Andrew Copp.
Larkin, Compher and Copp all played together for Michigan in 2014-15 and now theoretically they could the Red Wings’ top three centers.
However, it seems more likely that versatile Copp will play wing and slide to center as needed. Rookie Marco Kasper and Joe Veleno are also centers. Michael Rasmussen started last season as a center, but was playing wing at the end of the season.
JT Compher gets a five year deal in Detroit worth $5.1 million AAV! pic.twitter.com/eMIg0qjqiE
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) July 1, 2023
Compher posted career-best 52 points for the Colorado Avalanche in 2022-23. That’s 10 more points than Copp registered as the team’s No. 2 center. Compher played more than 20 minutes per game for Colorado this season and owned a Corsi rating of 52.3.
Through social media, fans are complaining about the length of the deal. It is longer than what Yzerman likes to give out.
The Avalanche wanted to re-sign Compher, but couldn’t reach an agreement. The Avalanche traded for Ryan Johansen who only has two years remaining on his contract. The Avalanche are only on the hook for $4 million each season.
In seven NHL seasons, Compher has never had a 20-goal season. But he has produced 17 and 18 goals over each of the past two seasons. He’s +33 over the past four seasons.
Compher was the Red Wings’ fifth free agent signing Saturday. They previously had signed goalies Alex Lyon and James Reimer, defenseman Justin Holl and Daniel Sprong.