The Biggest Questions for the Remainder of Detroit Red Wings' 2014 Offseason
The dust has finally settled from the early July free-agent frenzy, and the Detroit Red Wings are looking nearly identical to their 2013-14 roster.
After striking out in free agency and re-signing nearly all of their restricted free agents, the Red Wings are looking ahead to training camp with a few questions still looming.
The roster does not include any big-name acquisitions, and very few new faces at all. As the summer progresses, the club will prepare for training camp without the any big changes on the horizon.
While this season's edition of the Detroit Red Wings may not feature any lofty improvements, it is still composed of an excellent mix of veteran stars and blooming young talent.
While there is concern regarding what the 2014-15 edition can accomplish, these are the five major questions to be addressed before the season begins Oct. 9.
Will Mike Babcock Sign an Extension?
Detroit general manager Ken Holland has expressed his desire to reach an agreement, but head coach Mike Babcock’s future with the club remains clouded.
A deal has yet to be reached between the two sides. And while Babcock has articulated his wish to stay in Detroit, he has also declared he will not negotiate during the regular season.
He told reporters, “By that time (regular season), it’s hockey. It’s about the team. It’s not about Mike Babcock,” per Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News.
Without a deal by next summer, Babcock would draw the eye of every NHL team looking to make a change behind the bench. His achievement with Detroit is evident, and his club’s performance despite the significant number of injuries last season proves his competitive nature is contagious.
An extension before the season should be priority No. 1 in Hockeytown. Before any other decision is made based on the future of the club, Babcock is still the club’s best option for immediate success.
Will They Acquire a Right-Handed Defenseman?
After an uneventful free-agent push, Detroit has been limited to the trade market to improve on defense.
After re-signing Kyle Quincey, Detroit is bringing back the same seven defensemen it ran with last year—all of whom are left-handed shooters. The rumors swirling Detroit’s trade options have all but deadened of late, and nothing appears imminent.
As time goes by, both players will become more expensive. And with Danny DeKeyser still unsigned, the cap space won’t be there long.
Detroit re-signed Tomas Tatar to a three-year deal, per MLive.com’s Brendan Savage. His deal is worth $2.75 million annually, leaving Detroit with just over $5 million in cap space before it signs DeKeyser.
Without the cap space necessary to accommodate a deal for Myers or Green, Detroit won’t be making a play for either.
What Will Happen with Daniel Alfredsson?
Detroit has remained in contact with Daniel Alfredsson throughout the summer, but with its dwindling cap room, the writing may be on the wall.
The club re-signed Tomas Tatar and still needs to reach a deal with Danny DeKeyser before it will discuss Alfredsson. With just over $5 million in space before DeKeyser signs, there may not be room for him.
He will begin skating in August to see where he is physically, per Helene St. James at USA Today, but Detroit will need to clear out both roster and cap space to accommodate a return. His right-handed shot still makes him invaluable to the club.
The likeliest scenario to free up space, according to MLive.com's Ansar Khan, would be to move Jakub Kindl and his $2.4 million cap hit. Alfredsson’s return to Detroit would make him the 14th forward on the roster, but his performance last season proves the game has yet to leave him behind.
The 41-year-old scored 18 goals and tied for the team lead with 49 points in 68 games in his first year with the Red Wings.
Will They Trade Jakub Kindl?
With the limited cap space, Jakub Kindl’s departure could be floating toward certainty.
Kindl was a disappointment last season, ultimately resulting in his removal from the lineup in Game 5 against the Boston Bruins last spring. With an annual cap hit of $2.4 million in each of the next three seasons, the monetary wiggle room may be more desirable than his services.
The space could allow Detroit to re-sign Daniel Alfredsson, providing that much-needed right-handed shot on the power play it failed to acquire in free agency.
Ansar Khan of MLive.com believes Kindl is a viable trade chip, but he’d “have to be included with other assets to get a decent return.”
His fate may be tied to Alfredsson’s. Should the veteran return, then Kindl could be on his way out. For the time being, it appears he will continue to be part of Detroit’s defensive corps heading into the 2014-15 season.
When Will Dan DeKeyser Re-Sign?
Detroit has a tendency to wait patiently before re-signing its restricted free agents, but with August right around the corner, one might wonder why Dan DeKeyser still does not have a contract.
The former Western Michigan Bronco is entering his second full NHL season, and he doesn’t believe reaching a deal will be too difficult.
While attending a WMU Hockey Alumni and Friends weekend, he told Fox 17 in western Michigan, “It’ll be done before camp. So, no one needs to worry about that.”
DeKeyser has been a stabilizing force on Detroit’s back end since signing out of college in March 2013. He’s a significant part of Detroit’s future, so locking him up is paramount. At just 24 years old, he is already among the team’s top defensemen and one of the league’s budding young stars.
A deal appears inevitable before camp, so no worrying on that front. While it was a concern for some time, DeKeyser apparently will be donning the winged wheel next season and beyond.