Detroit Red Wings: The Good and Bad from the Offseason
The 2013 offseason has been a busy one for the Detroit Red Wings. While no offseason is perfect, the Red Wings have put together a pretty good one.
Teams are built during the offseason. It will take time to determine the effects of the moves and non-moves that have been made, but the team hopes that they have made to right moves. Last season saw a surprising run to the second round. Hopefully these moves will push them even further.
In no particular order, here is the good and the bad of the offseason so far.
Good: Letting Valtteri Filppula Walk
Although it might not be a hit with some fans, the team made the right move in letting Valtteri Filppula leave via free agency.
He is a good player with a solid two-way game. He put together one very good scoring season, but he followed it up with a down year. The Tampa Bay Lightning ended up signing him for $5 million per season. His stat lines show that he produces at a rate of a player in the $3-3.5 million range.
As tempting as it was, it was wise to not overpay for him. He will be a good player in Tampa with decent stats. He might even have an very good season at some point in Tampa, but overall, he will not live up to his contract.
Bad: Darren Helm’s Back
Darren Helm missed all but one game last season with a back injury. His absence was especially apparent on the penalty-killing unit.
With so much time passing since the injury, it would hopefully no longer be an issue. He was able to take part in the Red Wing’s development camp, and while he did not suffer any setbacks, he was still holding back.
By this point, the hope would be that he would be fully healed with no worries or thoughts to the injury. After missing the entire season, he—and the team—may just be taking things cautiously. Hopefully that is the case, and he will be able to hit the ice at full speed once training camp begins.
Good: Signing Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson
The Wings had Stephen Weiss on their radar for awhile and were able to land him at the start of free agency. The former Florida Panther will be a great addition to the team. He has been a solid goal scorer on some bad Florida teams. He will greatly benefit from the talent that will surround him in Detroit.
Daniel Alfredsson signing with Detroit may be the biggest shocker of the entire NHL offseason. He played his entire career with the Ottawa Senators and served as the captain since the 1999. It was widely assumed the 40-year-old player would either re-sign with Ottawa or retire. When negotiations broke down, Detroit was able to swoop in and grab him.
While signing a player of his age is a gamble, the Wings do have a history of success with aging players. Like Weiss, he too should enjoy the depth of talent that will be playing around him as he chases a Stanley Cup.
Bad: No Defensive Upgrade
The team did not make any moves on defense. The unit had issues last season, although they did improve as the season progressed.
Niklas Kronwall is their top defender, and Danny DeKeyser played very well in limited time last season. After that, there are several promising players, but signing an established top-four defender would have made things better.
With Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff and Jakub Kindl, the Wings have several young players who are still learning and growing. The hope is that they will be able to establish themselves more this season and shake off some of the young guy mistakes that they made last season.
Good with a Bad Side: A New Arena
The Red Wings announced that they will be building a new arena.
Their current home, the Joe Louis Arena, has needed to be replaced for some time. The downside to the arena is the bankrupt city of Detroit will be helping pay for it
Provided the plan passes through the inevitable bankruptcy challenges, the team will be playing in a new home in a few years.
Good: Re-Signing Restricted Free Agents
Although there was little doubt that they would be re-signed, it is still good news that the team was able to get Brendan Smith, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist under contract. They were each signed for two more seasons.
It is a great move, as players like Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson will be off the books by the time these contracts are up. This will allow the team to decide which of these young guns will fit into the long-term plans over these two seasons while still paying them lower amounts.
Good: Pavel Datsyuk Stays
There was concern during the season that Pavel Datsyuk would only be in town for one more season before returning to Russia.
He has long been known to have a desire to finish his career in Russia at some point. Some thought now was the time; others thought he wanted to be closer to his daughter. There were also those who believed the whole story to be a negotiating ploy.
Regardless of what it was, he ended up adding three more years to his contract. This means he will wear the winged wheel through the 2016-17 season.
While he does not lead the league in stats, he is considered one of the best all-around players in the game, and it was a huge relief to see him to stay with the team.
Bad: Damien Brunner Departs
Damien Brunner had an up-and-down season with the team. It was his first in the NHL, and with the partial season due to the lockout, it was not the easiest time to make the transition from Europe. He started the season hot before cooling in the second half. He did end the season third in goals for the team. In the playoffs, he found his scoring touch and tallied five goals, which led the team’s playoff effort.
He still has not signed with a team, so on the surface, there is still hope. The team is up against the salary cap and over the roster limit. Any move to re-sign Brunner would also need to result in several roster moves. Sadly, that is unlikely to happen.
It is difficult to allow a player with as much potential as Brunner to just walk away. Hopefully this is not a move that the team will regret.