The Detroit Red Wings have re-signed defenseman Joe Hicketts to a two-year contract, bringing back a key member of the Grand Rapids Griffins. Hicketts will qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency at the end of the deal unless he plays in at least a total of 64 NHL games over the next two seasons.
Now 23, Hicketts was an free agent signing out of the WHL in 2014 after no one took a chance on him in the draft. That was likely due to his diminutive stature, but the young defenseman proceeded to dominate his junior opponents over the next two seasons, recording 125 points in 121 games for the Victoria Royals. Upon graduating to professional hockey, little has changed as Hicketts is still a strong point producer in the AHL and continues to quarterback their powerplay.
Unfortunately, that success at the minor league level hasn’t translated into much opportunity for Hicketts in the NHL. He has played just 16 games with the Red Wings including 11 last season, and has three points. It’s hard to imagine that will change this year after the team brought in some new faces like Patrik Nemeth, Oliwer Kaski and Madison Bowey. Not to mention the team has plenty of young defense prospects pushing their way up the ladder, giving Hicketts even more competition for playing time in the future.
That said, a two-year deal will provide some security and stability for the 23-year old and is a nice reward just a few years after no one believed he would ever reach the NHL at all. He’ll need to clear waivers to start in the minor leagues, but with the length of this deal that shouldn’t be a problem for the Red Wings.