Detroit Red Wings: Which Free Agents Will Return Next Season?

Isaac SmithAnalyst IApril 21, 2012

Detroit Red Wings: Which Free Agents Will Return Next Season?

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    The Detroit Red Wings have a number of free agency questions that must be addressed this offseason. Many of those questions resolve on which players stay, and which will not be re-signed.

    Following the most lackluster playoff performance in recent Red Wings history, the team needs to go in a new direction up front.

    There are six Unrestricted Free Agents and three Restricted Free Agents on the Red Wings.

    Without further ado, let's find out who will be wearing the Winged Wheel next year.

1. Ty Conklin; Should Not Be Re-Signed

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    Ty Conklin will not be back next season; let's just get that out of the way.

    The journeyman goaltender started the season strong with a shutout of the Colorado Avalanche, but the wheels fell off on his season after that.

    Conklin finished 5-6-1 with a 3.28 GAA and an 88.4 save percentage.

    Non-enviable numbers for a goalie of any league.

    Detroit has a somewhat capable back-up goaltender who is signed for next season in Joey MacDonald.

    At this point, I think Red Wings fans can and should assume that MacDonald will be the back-up next year to save some cap space of exploring the free agent goaltender again.

2. Jiri Hudler; Stay 75%

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    For all the fan smack talking (myself included) that Hudler put up with during the 2010-11 season, I think he did fairly well for himself this season with a 25-goal, 50-point season, including a career high in shooting percentage at 19.7 percent.

    Hudler will be back next season for the right amount of money.

    As the cap for next season is still not set, and likely won't be until the CBA expires in September, there is no telling what the rollback (if any) will be for player salaries.

    Hudler likely wouldn't receive a substantial raise at all. Something along the lines of his current salary for this season of $3 million.

    Whether Hudler would be willing to stay for that much is another question.

    I say if he was offered another contract for around the $3 million range he would stay, but that is still an "if."

3. Tomas Holmstrom, Should Retire

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    When the game of hockey gets revolutionized, everyone remembers the one who changed it.

    When Tomas Holmstrom was drafted in the 10th round of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, it is doubtful that anyone except for the Red Wings scouts cared about the selection.

    1,026 games, 530 points and 122 power play goals (and many more waived off power play goals) later, the "Demolition Man" is 39 years old.

    Holmstrom has never been known for his skating ability, so the question here is whether Red Wings GM Ken Holland thinks he is worth the risk for another season.

    But Holmstrom is coming off his worst statistical season since 1997-98 and worst goal production since 2001-02.

    Time to call it quits Homer, though I'm sure NHL goalies will disagree, Red Wings' fans will miss your net front presence.

4. Darren Helm, Stay

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    Darren Helm has some unfinished business from this season.

    After missing games at the end of the season due to an MCL sprain, Helm got back to game action in Game 1 of this series, but his night ended prematurely after his wrist was cut with a skate.

    As a result of the injury, Helm posted a career low in points with 26. Helm also failed to break into double digits in goals, and also failed to register a shorthanded goal for the first season since he started being a regular in the Red Wings lineup.

    It is safe to say that the Red Wings will try to lock up Darren Helm for the long term with Helm being a RFA this offseason.

    I think the Red Wings will go something cap friendly with Helm's deal; possibly something like the Patrick Eaves deal.

    I'm thinking five years and $6 million for the whole contract. Pretty decent for both sides I think.

5. Justin Abdelkader, Stay

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    Justin Abdelkader is an integral part of this Detroit Red Wings team.

    Abdelkader provides grit that other players on Detroit simply can just not provide.

    He had 148 hits this season along with 42 blocked shots and even got in a few fights for Detroit.

    Abdelkader has good hands around the net and needs to learn to finish more to be a dynamic player for Detroit, but he should be re-signed this offseason for about the same as he makes right now.

6. Kyle Quincey, Trade at Draft

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    Kyle Quincey is only credited with one post-season give away.

    But that give away led to a Alexander Radulov goal and sealed Detroit's fate in a first round exit to Nashville.

    Quincey had two points in five playoff games against Nashville but had just three points in 18 regular season games with Detroit.

    Quincey is a RFA this offseason, and Detroit must get him out of town as he should have never been brought back in the first place.

    There are a couple ways the Red Wings management could do this.

    The first of these would be trading Quincey at the draft

    There are always teams looking at trade options during the draft. The Red Wings acquired Quincey for a first-round pick this year.


    The second way they could get Quincey out of Detroit is to let him sign somewhere else and pick up the compensation with the contract that he signs if they want to not match the offer sheet.

    Quincey currently makes $3.125 million, so any contract of a similar dollar value (he wouldn't get more after this season's statistics) would be entitled to give Detroit a second-round pick. If Quincey signed for more than $3.134 million, it would be a first- and a third-round pick.

    Quincey has had a couple chances in Detroit, and he is turnover prone (minus-11 in the regular season). The Red Wings have no use for his services and could use the cap space much more efficiently somewhere else.

7. Brad Stuart, Toss Up

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    Brad Stuart loves the Detroit Red Wings and loves playing for them.

    But as far as family goes, Stuart could in fact leave during free agency because his family cannot leave California due to legal restrictions.

    Stuart has been a monster on the back-end, putting up a respectable 21 points, 177 hits and 115 blocked shots in the regular season.

    Stuart was a minus six in the playoffs, but he was far better at home with plus-minus (plus-22) then on the road (minus six).

    This will be less of a hockey decision for Detroit and more of a family decision for Stuart. If Stuart comes back, that would ease the pain of potentially losing Detroit's current captain.

    And speaking of which...

8. Nick Lidstrom, Too Early to Tell

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    Nick Lidstrom has just about done it all.

    Out of his many achievements, the ones that people commonly point toward are his four Stanley Cups, Conn Smythe Trophy in 2002 and his seven Norris Trophies.

    The fact that Lidstrom is considering retiring is somewhat baffling to others because Lidstrom won the Norris Trophy last year and still put up 34 points and a plus-21 rating this year.

    For Lidstrom however, it's not about statistics.

    It's about winning Stanley Cups.

    As long as Detroit is a contender and Lidstrom could play at a high level, Lidstrom said he would consider playing another season.

    But that was last year, and this year Lidstrom turns 42 before the end of the month, so it will be interesting to see if Lidstrom decides that he can play for one more year, or if he simply chooses to walk away as a top-10 defenseman in the league.

    Detroit fans are certainly hoping the former prediction holds true.


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