Wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, Daniel Alfredsson is an unsatisfied man.
Be it a warm, sandy beach or the familiar surroundings of his homeland in Sweden, Alfredsson certainly did not envision being where he is in early May.
Alfredsson came to Detroit last summer because he wanted to win a Stanley Cup and thought the Red Wings gave him the best chance to do that. As it turned out, he cashed in an untarnished legacy in Ottawa to win exactly one playoff game before beginning his summer vacation.
Considering that decidedly paltry return on his investment, is it really conceivable that he’d actually return to Detroit for another season?
There’s no question the Red Wings would make that happen. As Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press reported, Alfredsson is likely the only free-agent player Detroit would go out of their way to welcome back.
And why wouldn’t they?
Despite his 41 years, Alfredsson still managed to lead the team in scoring with 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in 68 games. He possesses a much-coveted right-hand shot on the power play, and though not as swift as he once was, he still utilizes a razor-sharp hockey sense to find his chances.
Though Alfredsson certainly isn’t going to outpace his younger opponents—or his teammates for that matter—he remains a quality offensive player that any team would welcome on its roster.
For his part, Alfredsson has also indicated that, should he continue to play, he would do so as a Detroit Red Wing.
Alfredsson said as much to Ansar Khan at MLive.com when asked about his future in March.
It was a big change moving and it took a little bit to get accustomed to everything, for it to feel natural coming to the rink, but I feel very welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed my time here. As far as everything around the city, I have no questions about my future here. If my body and mind tells me there’s more to give, I would definitely look forward to an opportunity to come back.
Clearly, Alfredsson’s mind and body are going to play a significant role in his decision to come back to the NHL. However, despite his statements in March, Alfredsson may end up deciding to do so with a different team.
The reason for this goes back to the same reason he opted to come to Detroit this season: the Stanley Cup.
After 18 years in the NHL, Alfredsson has never laid a finger on Lord Stanley, and if his mind and body tell him he’s still got something to give to this game, it surely won’t be for anything less than a championship.
Obviously, no team—no matter how skilled, well coached or experienced—can guarantee a Stanley Cup win, so choosing which team to attach to for this reason is always a gamble for any free-agent player.
Indeed, as CapGeek indicates, the projected cap space and roster strength of teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, the Boston Bruins and the Los Angeles Kings suggests that these might all be enticing destinations for a veteran player still hungry for a Cup.
One could very well imagine a player like Alfredsson placing a call to one or all of those teams over the summer.
Simply put, if Alfredsson decides to return to the NHL next season, it will be to win a Stanley Cup.
As he contemplates his future over the summer, he may very well realize there are safer bets than Detroit when it comes to finishing one’s career a Stanley Cup champion.
Stats via NHL.com unless otherwise noted.