No, it isn't the quality of Alfredsson that will hurt the team. Indeed, it is far from that reason why the Red Wings have hurt their future.
Signing Alfredsson, as Opposed to Signing Restricted Free Agents
The reason Red Wings management has mangled the team's future so badly by signing Alfredsson is that the Red Wings have "sold the farm" as far as their restricted free agents are concerned.
Signing UFA forwards Damien Brunner and Dan Cleary is now out of the picture (which is difficult to imagine, considering their roles with the team last season). The team's focus should be on the restricted free agents that the Red Wings need to sign in Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith.
With Detroit now having the fourth-highest team salary in the NHL, sitting just $2.3 million beneath the salary cap, per CapGeek.com, the Red Wings have virtually ensured that at least one of those restricted free agents will hit unrestricted free agency before next season, with 14 forwards and six defenseman already signed to NHL contracts for next season.
Simply put, if another team gave an offer sheet to either player, the idea that the Red Wings would match would be out of the question, as Detroit does not have the cap space to sign all three right now, let alone with an offer sheet.
All three players, per CapGeek's Red Wings page, were signed for what were (at the time) maximum entry-level contracts of $875,000.
CapGeek lists the Red Wings' offer sheet prices for Andersson, Nyquist and Smith at a combined $2.219 million, but the fact of the matter is that all three players' combined cap hits last season (of $875,000 per player) would bring the Red Wings over the salary cap by a little bit.
Teams can exceed the salary cap by up to 10 percent in the offseason, but for the Red Wings, this would likely mean using the second of their two cap compliance buyouts to make this feasible.
The Red Wings Didn't Need Daniel Alfredsson
It is very likely, if not accurate, to say that any hockey fans who thought that Detroit would make an offer to Daniel Alfredsson just one week before free agency started are likely psychic or delusional.
It seemed like a foregone conclusion that Alfredsson would spend what could be his last NHL season with the only franchise he had ever known in the Ottawa Senators. Alfredsson started doing some thinking and realized if he wanted to achieve his lifelong dream of winning the Stanley Cup, he might need a better opportunity and signed with the Detroit Red Wings.
Although Alfredsson wanted and needed a better team to increase his chances of winning the Stanley Cup, the Red Wings did not need Alfredsson.
Yes, the Red Wings needed a top-six right wing, but Alfredsson at age 40 hardly has the legs to play top-line minutes and will likely not contribute as much if he plays on the second line with Stephen Weiss and whoever else Mike Babcock puts as his linemate.
The Bottom Line
The Red Wings are a team trying to get better while trying to get younger. The long-term future is not Daniel Alfredssson. Instead, should be with a younger, more agile and offensively gifted forward in Gustav Nyquist and a power forward in Joakim Andersson.
Brendan Smith is a good prospect, but he might not be as valuable as he once was after his turnover-prone regular season and playoffs.
The Red Wings are now without a top-six forward in Nyquist and a fourth-line center in Andersson, unless fans wish to consider an offensively limited Cory Emmerton to be the answer in that regard.
Unless the Red Wings buy out another player to free up more contract space, the Red Wings have put themselves in a bind in terms of re-signing promising young restricted free agents.
Although there is no denying that Daniel Alfredsson will bring be natural scoring right wing for the Detroit Red Wings for one season, there can be little doubt that it will come at what seems to be a great price—unless something changes.
All statistics courtesy of CapGeek.com.
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