The Detroit Red Wings are gearing up to contend for a playoff spot in 2025. They have missed the playoffs for a franchise record eight consecutive seasons. Given their storied history, Detroit would prefer to end the playoff drought sooner rather than later. To that end, they signed two-time Stanley Cup champion Vladimir Tarasenko to a two-year contract in NHL Free Agency.

Tarasenko brings a championship pedigree to the Motor City. He won the Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers a few weeks back. And back in 2019, he won a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues. Furthermore, the Russian winger is a proven goal scorer. He has scored 20+ goals in eight of his 12 seasons in the NHL. And in six of those eight seasons, Tarasenko scored 30 or more goals.

The Yaroslavl, Russia native was the last of the big names to sign in NHL Free Agency. With that in mind, it's time to take a deeper look at this deal. Here are the grades for the Red Wings and Vladimir Tarasenko after agreeing to this two-year, $9.5 million contract.

Vladimir Tarasenko signs with Red Wings

Florida Panthers right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (10) kisses the cup after winning game seven of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers at Amerant Bank Arena.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Tarasenko spent 26 days on the open market in NHL Free Agency last summer. This was due to a down year he had with the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers. He fell short of 20 goals during the regular season despite a promising second half of the season in New York. This includes three goals and four points in seven playoff games.

This past season saw Tarasenko return to form a bit. He scored 23 goals and 55 points while splitting the season with the Ottawa Senators and the Panthers. It's a far cry from his 2021-22 performance that saw him score 82 points in 75 games with the Blues. But it does show that he can still be a productive player in the NHL.

This bounce-back performance did have its benefits. For instance, he received an extra year in NHL Free Agency this year compared to last. Additionally, he received a full-no trade clause in 2024-25 and a modified no-trade clause in 2025-26. That said, he did see a bit of a dip in his salary compared to his last contract.

Overall, one could argue the slight reduction in pay is a fair trade-off for the extra year. And he did parlay his performance into a multi-year contract with no-trade protection. It's a fine deal for him after winning the second Stanley Cup of his career.

Red Wings sign Vladimir Tarasenko

One thing was clear for the Red Wings after the first day of NHL Free Agency. They needed to add a forward who could impact their top-six. They lost David Perron to the Ottawa Senators on July 1. And that left a void on the second line that Detroit needed to fill. With this contract, they have filled the void.

Tarasenko is not the player he once was. While still a goal scorer, he likely won't reach 30+ goals unless everything goes perfectly. But Detroit doesn't need 30+ goals from the Yaroslavl native. Alex DeBrincat, Lucas Raymond, and Patrick Kane all have the ability to carry the goal scoring load. All Detroit needs is for Tarasenko to keep scoring in the 50-60 point range.

Paying nearly $5 million a season may be a bit rich for the Red Wings initially. However, it's easy to stomach on a two-year contract. Additionally, if Tarasenko can produce 50-60 points a season, Detroit can live with the heightened salary for a player with a proven track record of success and production in the NHL.

Grades and final thoughts

Vladimir Tarasenko and the Red Wings earn fine marks for this contract. Detroit replaces some of the offense they lost in NHL Free Agency. Meanwhile, Tarasenko parlayed a bounce-back season into a multi-year contract with no-trade protection. It's a fine deal for all involved.

Vladimir Tarasenko grade: B+

Detroit Red Wings grade: B+