Detroit Red Wings: Offseason Decisions Facing the Team
The Detroit Red Wings are looking at a busy offseason, but most of the decisions may have to do with players already on the roster rather than looking to sign free agents.
They already took care of one of their own as they re-signed Drew Miller last week.
Their surprise run in the playoffs has brought a more hopeful outlook to the future of the team. There is still need for improvement, but the young players that were able to get extended playing time this season showed that they belong and that their time to play is now.
The team now faces two big questions: Which players do they re-sign and which young players will be called up?
Valtteri Filppula, Dan Cleary and Damien Brunner will be free agents and the team must decide who they will re-sign.
Brunner seems like the easiest choice of the three. In his first season in the NHL he played very well. He was third on the team with 12 goals during the regular season and had 26 points in 44 games this season.
He also showed that he would not shy away in the playoffs. Over 14 playoff games he had nine points and a team-leading five goals. After a high-scoring career in Europe there was concern over if he could translate his game to North America. He proved that he could and the team will need to re-sign him.
Cleary will be a tough call. Early in the season he just could not get going as he only had one point in his first 15 games. He did improve by scoring 14 more over his final 33 games.
His playoff performance may have earned him another contract. After posting .34 points per game during the regular season, he nearly doubled that over the 14 playoff games with an impressive .64 points per game.
Filppula will be the most difficult decision. He has long been thought of as a star player in the making. In 2011-12 he looked to have his breakout season as he had career-best numbers in goals and assists with 23 and 43 respectively.
This past season he was expected to continue his rise but fell far short. He only had nine goals and 17 points. Of course with the short season due to the lockout his numbers would be lower. To see how badly the season was though we can look at his points per game (PPG) and goals per game (GPG) stats.
Going into this past season his PPG average for his career was .53; his .41 this season just was not good enough. Looking at his numbers, it appears that his 2011-12 season is more likely a fluke then a sign of things to come.
The bigger issue is his asking price. Mlive’s Ansawr Khan reported that he was seeking a deal around $5 million per season. Granted, Filppula is more than just an offensive player. He has developed into a solid two-way player but he is not worth anything near $5 million.
His current salary of $3 million is closer to his real value; however, it is unlikely that he would sign for that amount. The team has plenty of depth in the minors, the question is will they trust that depth or be suckered into overpaying for Filppula?
The team is loaded with forwards and centers on the roster. They currently have 12 players signed for next season to cover these positions. Add in Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist, who are restricted free agents that should be re-signed, and there is a logjam. That does not take into account that they have Brunner, Cleary and Filppula out there as free agents.
Andersson and Nyquist played well during the regular season. Once the playoffs started they, along with Brunner, became the best line on the team. Those two players have earned a full-time roster spot for next season.
There will be several roster questions this season. Tomas Tatar is out of options so he must remain on the team’s roster or they risk losing him. In Grand Rapids, he has led the team to the Calder Cup Championship. He had 23 goals and 49 points in 61 games during the regular season. During the playoffs, he has added 14 goals in 23 games.
Darren Helm only played one game due to injuries this season. Will there still be room for him or have some of the young players pushed by him?
Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson battled injuries and ineffective play this season. Jordin Tootoo played 42 games during the season. Once the playoffs started though, he joined Samuelsson and Bertuzzi as scratches. What will the future be for these three on the team?
Beyond Tatar, the team has several more players in Grand Rapids that are ready to play in Detroit. Landon Ferraro, Francis Pare and Riley Sheahan have earned a long look. Although he has spent most of his career in the minors, Jeff Hoggan put together a solid season. Tomas Jurco and Jan Mursak had solid seasons but have really come on in the post season.
Obviously there is not enough room for all of these players on the roster. How the team views some of these younger players will have a huge bearing on what they do with Cleary and Filppula. They also have not used their amnesty clause to get rid of a player.
The team has several big decisions to make with their own roster before they can even start to look at other free agents. It will be a busy offseason for the team.