Detroit Red Wings Likeliest to Be Playing Elsewhere in 2014-15
The Detroit Red Wings’ 2013-14 season is in the books.
Players have cleared out their lockers, made their tee times and readied themselves for the offseason. Eight teams remain alive in the chase for the Stanley Cup, but Detroit is not among them.
The front office will soon begin the first few phases of its offseason preparation for June’s NHL draft. This includes a meeting with coaches to determine the direction of the club, then subsequently the fate of its free agents.
Detroit has seven players hitting the market as unrestricted free agents, while three key individuals are restricted.
Of those 10 players, only a small fraction are likely to return to Detroit. The others could catch on somewhere else, although some may have reached the final stage of their career.
The trade market is somewhere else Detroit could be active come draft day or leading up to free agency. A couple players currently under contract may find themselves relocating this summer.
Whatever direction the team heads in, there could be a significantly different look next season in Hockeytown.
Here are the Detroit Red Wings likeliest to be playing elsewhere in 2014-15.
After an up-and-down regular season, Kyle Quincey was one of Detroit’s best players in its first-round series against the Boston Bruins.
Quincey was one of two Red Wings to play every game this season—Drew Miller was the other. At one point, he was as low as minus-14, but rebounded to finish at minus-five. Yes, it’s not the most attractive number, but he did so with the team’s top scorers out of the lineup.
In Detroit’s five-game series loss to Boston, Quincey (even) was one of just two Red Wings defensemen (six players total) to finish at even or better.
He averaged 21:24 of ice time, which put him behind only Niklas Kronwall and Danny DeKeyser. While he didn’t record a point, he fired nine shots on goal, which was the highest total among Detroit defensemen.
The team could be happy with his play in the postseason, but Quincey hasn’t performed up to his $3.78 million salary. He also hasn’t played well enough to justify the first-round pick Detroit sent to Tampa Bay to acquire him in 2012.
The 27-year-old has played six seasons in the NHL and could be a better fit with another club. Detroit has an abundance of left-handed defensemen and will be in the market for a right-handed blueliner who can contribute on the power play.
Quincey will certainly catch on somewhere this summer. He’s still young enough to improve in the right system and has shown in the past that he can provide offense from the back end.
Over time, it became evident that Detroit was just not the right fit.
After a productive lockout-shortened season in 2013, Jakub Kindl had a tough time holding a spot in the lineup in 2014.
Kindl posted 13 points in 55 games in 2012 and then matched that total in just 41 games while finishing second on the team at plus-15 last year.
In 2014, though he posted a career-high 17 assists and 19 points, he was more of a liability defensively.
Brian Lashoff posted just six points on the season, but played in nine more games than Kindl—often in his place. Rookie defenseman Xavier Ouellet made his playoff debut in Kindl’s stead for Game 5, possibly signaling a loss of confidence in the 27-year-old.
It is possible Detroit has also lost its patience eight years after drafting him in the first round (19th overall in 2005). In four seasons in the NHL, he hasn’t shown significant progress, nor has he carved himself a niche in Detroit’s system.
If the Red Wings feel there is a trade that can better the club, Kindl could be part of a package.
He is a decent player with positive qualities, but like Kyle Quincey, may be better-suited with a new opportunity elsewhere.
Detroit is excited about the depth of young defensemen in its farm system and could open the door for healthy competition among them.
David Legwand’s likely departure could come to the chagrin of Detroit Red Wings fans.
While he didn’t put up significant offensive numbers, his acquisition played a large role in securing a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance.
However, he failed to generate much of anything in the playoffs, producing just four shots and a minus-one rating in 13:59 of ice time per game.
In 21 regular-season games with Detroit, he tallied four goals and 11 points, finishing with an abysmal minus-nine rating and a subpar 48.9 faceoff percentage.
The concern over his departure stems primarily from what Detroit gave up to obtain his services.
Forward Patrick Eaves, valued prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a conditional third-round draft pick went to the Nashville Predators for Legwand. Because Detroit qualified for the playoffs, the condition results in the third-round pick becoming a second-round pick.
Injuries forced general manager Ken Holland’s hand at the trade deadline, but the likelihood of Detroit’s centers healing before next season limits Legwand’s opportunity to return.
With Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Stephen Weiss all expected to heal over the summer, Detroit will likely see Legwand head for greener pastures.
The cap space saved by electing not to extend his contract could be beneficial at another position—likely on defense.
It was a large price to pay, but keeping the postseason streak alive is a far cry from leaving the team empty-handed.
Jordin Tootoo’s contract wasn’t the best example of foresight by GM Ken Holland.
He is widely known as an agitator with over 800 career penalty minutes, but has only surpassed the 20-point mark once in his 10 NHL seasons.
Detroit inked Tootoo in the summer of 2012 to a three-year, $5.7 million contract. He has played just 53 games for the team with nine points and a minus-three rating.
It was evident his style did not mesh with Detroit’s 200-foot hockey and he bounced in and out of the lineup before ultimately settling in Grand Rapids in the AHL.
Detroit has one remaining compliance buyout stemming from the new collective bargaining agreement and only has this summer to use it. With no other player as a realistic option, the one year and $2 million salary ($1.9 million cap hit) remaining on Tootoo’s contract make him the prospective candidate.
In 2013, he received eight major penalties in 42 games. He had just one in 11 games in 2014.
At 31 years old, Tootoo still has plenty left in the tank for a team which can better accommodate his ability. Detroit fans enjoyed the rough-and-tumble energy he supplied, but it failed to impact games in a positive manner.
Detroit is a team that prefers speed and finesse to succeed, and Tootoo’s “hit-now-ask-questions-later” style of play never found a home in the lineup.
Mikael Samuelsson’s second stint with Detroit was by no means on par with his first.
The Red Wings signed him to a two-year, $6 million contract in the summer of 2012 after falling short in the Zach Parise/Ryan Suter sweepstakes.
Over the two years of his deal, injuries and inefficient play held Samuelsson to just 30 games and four points. His upcoming free agency is sweet relief under the salary cap and represents one less underachieving veteran on the roster.
Now finally healthy, he will test free agency and could still find a home. The 37-year-old is four years removed from his only 30-goal season and won’t score a substantial contract.
His connections with NHL GMs Jim Nill (Dallas) and Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay) from their time in Detroit could be selling points as well.
He’s certainly on the decline statistically, but still has experience that could be valuable for a younger team. He was a Stanley Cup champion in 2008 and a runner-up in 2009 and 2011. At this point, he may be likelier to receive an invite to training camp on a tryout basis before a team offers a contract.
Samuelsson’s second stint with the Red Wings was immensely disappointing and he won’t be re-signing. Looking ahead to free agency, there is nothing to say he won’t get an opportunity with another club.
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