Detroit Red Wings, 2013 Stanley Cup Champions: Part 4
One thing was painfully obvious in last season first round debacle versus Nashville—the Wings need more scorers. Players who are a threat every time they step on the ice are a must.
It doesn't make much difference whether the player is a scorer, sniper or scrapper as long as they can put the puck in the back of the net and wear out the defense.
Detroit has enough cap space that money will not have to be the primary concern in their negotiations with any free agent forward. This free agent class doesn't have a glut of top-end scorers, but there are a few players who would not only fit the Red Wings system, but thrive within it.
Let's take a look at some of those players and what the Wings might need to shell out in order to get them. Be prepared for a surprise or two on the list.
$8 Million Option
Zach Parise is the glittering prize of the 2012 NHL free-agent auction. It's amazing that he could even be in this position. Rarely does a player of his quality, let alone a captain of a Stanley Cup runner-up team, hit the market as an unrestricted free agent during the prime of their careers.
During Game 3 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, Pierre McGuire attributed the following quote to Dustin Brown about Parise, "He has the skill of an All-Star with the work ethic of a fourth liner." He is not a pure magical scorer who can always be relied on to score goals all the time. But the points will be there and he will work his tail off to make that happen. Really, the only knock on him is that he is not the biggest man and not overly physical.
But I have the sneaking suspicion that Parise will receive in the $8 million-$9 million per season range, which will be about $3 million more than he is worth. And that's just not Detroit's style.
$6 Million Option
Ladies and gents, this is what a sniper looks like.
Not many NHL players can boast a 40-goal season. Alex Semin is one of those few.
The concern is that at times Alex seems uninterested or undermotivated. Having been a stranger in a strange land, I can relate to the difficultly of feeling "at home" in a place where the culture, customs and language are alien.
Semin to the Wings would have a couple of things going for it. He would be able to play on the top line with his fellow countyman Pavel Datsyuk. The two already have a rapport playing together on the same line for Russia.
It's not beyond reason that Semin's motivation and comfort level would be at an all-time high playing wing for one of the most talented centers in all of hockey (who just happens to speak his language and know his culture.)
Alex has decent size, good speed, deft hands and one of the best shots in the world. He has never been the most physical player and that would be a detriment for a team sorely in need of improvement in that area.
If the Wings decide to bring on Semin, they could be getting 60 points or they could be getting 80-90 points.
Elliotte Friedman of CBC speculated that Semin might be willing to take less to play with DetroIt (around $4 million instead of six would be great for the Wings). If that's the case, sign him up—it's worth the risk.
$5 Million Option
Bobby Ryan is everything the Wings need and could want. He is young (25) and can score. He's a big body who lays the wood and he has a reasonable $5 million cap hit.
The Wings should take a shot. Anaheim is not going to give him away—they would probably want a top-six forward, top-four defenseman, a good prospect and draft pick.
If the Wings offered up Franzen, Quincey, Tatar and a high draft pick (first- or second-round pick) for Ryan, and Anaheim would take it—do it in a heartbeat.
$4 Million Option
This assumes that Shane Doan is most interested in a chance to win the Stanley Cup, and that he would be willing to take less money to do so.
There is only one thing wrong with Shane Doan—he is old. That aside, he is tough, he scores, he is a leader in work ethic and play, and a former team captain.
Last season, Shane put up 50 points (22 G, 28 A) and could be expected to put up 10-20 points more playing on a line with Datsyuk or Zetterberg.
Depending on how the free-agent pool drains out, Shane Doan could be a player that the Wings might take a look at after the initial rush in free agency.
$3 Million Option
In the playoffs last season, young Radulov looked like a bull with the puck duct taped to his stick (especially against the Red Wings). He was extremely effective one-on-one.
He didn't play many games last year during the regular season in the NHL (only nine, with seven points) but he did have six points (1 G, 5 A) in eight playoff games for the Predators. And he's only 25 years old.
Radulov plays bigger and stronger than his 6'1" and 200 lbs. He is a Russian magician with the puck on his stick. He shows excellent creativity and high work ethic, and is not a defensive liability.
The biggest question would be his desire to play here in the U.S. If Datsyuk was his centerman and Semin the other winger, might he be persuaded? The Wings have a good track record with foreign players, especially Russians.
He's also not a UFA; it's clear that Nashville does not want to make him a qualifying offer as a RFA, which makes him available.
Last season he made less than $1 million. The Wings could get him for $3 million per year but may be able to get him for even less.
Update: According to CSKA (h/t Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy), Radulov has signed a four-year deal with the KHL team.
$2 Million Option
Gone are the days of the goon who can't play and who's only there to fight.
Detroit is in dire need of a sheriff. Someone needs to hold Shea Weber accountable when he slams Zetterberg's head into the glass (and by accountable I mean beat him down).
Detroit has a couple of deputies—Abdelkader, Bertuzzi and Ericsson—but they lack the sheriff.
Brandon Prust and Aaron Asham were snatched up quickly in free agency, so instead of the bully, if Detroit wants someone to stick up for their stars, they will have to settle on a bully-killing pest in Jordin Tootoo.
Tootoo is one of the few players remaining who could fill this need for the Wings while still being worthy of time on the fourth line.
Last season Tootoo posted a very respectable 30 points (6 G, 24 A). He has good speed, hits like a little ball of hate and has no fear of dropping the gloves. The only thing the Wings would need to cure is his habit of taking the occasional bad penalty.
Tootoo was a $1.25 million cap hit last season on a two-way contract. The Wings could probably offer him $1.5 million per season for a couple of years and lock him up.