Detroit Red Wings: Five Players Who Do Not Fit on the Roster in 2011-12

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIMay 6, 2011

Detroit Red Wings: Five Players Who Do Not Fit on the Roster in 2011-12

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    While the season is not over yet, the Detroit Red Wings are looking at a huge mountain to climb in order to make the Western Conferences finals.  They are down three games to none to the San Jose Sharks and are looking at an earlier summer vacation then they had hoped.

    They will try to become only the fourth team to overcome such a deficit. Regardless if they are successful, the Wings need to look ahead to the future.  Not only next season but for seasons beyond that as well.

    Here are five players whose roster spot should be in jeopardy for next season.

Jiri Hudler

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    During the 2006-07 season Hudler showed great promise.  In the offseason he made an effort to train harder in order to be stronger.  At only 5'9" and 178lbs, he was easily knocked around the ice in his first season.

    The hard work paid off as his points jumped from 25 to 42 in his second season.  He then scored a career best 23 goals and 57 points in 2008-09.

    With quickly developing talent and growing role with the team, the Wings were surprised when he opted to head to Russia to play following the 09 playoffs.  After one season in Russia he returned to the Wings this season. 

    The year away from the Wings and NHL seems to have greatly stunted his growth.  He scored a career low in goals this season.  He had several long scoreless droughts, including one 13-game stretch.  By mid February it looked like he was back as he scored three goals and 10 assists over a nine-game stretch.

    He followed it up by going seven games without a point, though, and never found that hot streak again.

    All of these ups and downs can be tolerated for a lower or cheaper spot on the roster, but when the player is making $2.75 million there is no time for such patience.  In the world of salary cap hockey each team needs to make sure that they are getting the best return on their investment (ROI).

    Hudler’s ROI is nowhere near it should be.  He only ranks 164th in points and 250th in goals among forwards in the league.

    Players producing his level of stats can easily be had for under a million dollars.  Paying Hudler at his rate is a drain on the team resources and hinders them from making other moves.

    At this point he is under contract for one more season.  If he were to move it would need to be via a trade.   He does still have talent and potential that other teams would be interested in.  The Wings have several young players looking to move up that could fill his roster spot.  Also clearing his contract would open up cash to spend in free agency.

Jonathan Ericsson

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    Ericson is a free agent this year and likely will be playing elsewhere next season.  He has not grown into the top-notch defender the Wings had hoped.

    Several untimely defensive lapses have proved costly this season.  He is only finishing his second full season.  He likely will be looking for a raise and that is just not in the cards.  

    If he were to return for less money, then the Wings may take a chance and resign him.  Odds are though that he will not be wearing the winged wheel next season.

Mike Modano

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    This is an easy call here as Modano has already talked of retirement after this season. His dream season of returning to his home town team has not gone as hoped.

    A nasty and potential career ending wrist injury forced him to miss most of the season.  He valiantly fought back and returned to action at the end of February.

    The time off really hurt as Modano seemed slower upon his return.  While occasionally showing flashes of his old self, to often he did not.  He has been a healthy scratch in six of the first seven playoff games.

    There is no doubting how great of a player Modano has been.  He is easily among the conversation the best US born player ever.  As it does with every great athlete though, time has caught up to Modano.

Joey McDonald

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    MacDonald is a free agent following the season.  He was called up from Grand Rapids to fill in when Chris Osgood went down with injury.  His stats of 5-5-3 and a 2.58 goals against are a bit misleading.  

    He does well coming in the game as a replacement but, as a starter his stats are worrisome. Save for one shutout performance against Columbus, his numbers are just not good enough.  In his nine games as a starter he has a 3.89gaa.  He has played for five teams in his career and this his second stint with the Wings.  There is a reason he is a career journeyman backup.

    The team needs to invest on a new backup goalie next season.  They have options in Grand Rapids, such as Jordan Pearce however they will likely look for veteran backup.

The Old Guys

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    Kris Draper and Chris Osgood

    These two have been part of the great run that this team has been on for most of the past 15 years.  Both are nearing the end though.

    They are fan favorites and it will be tough for Red Wing fans to see either of them go. 

    Draper earned his spot in fans' hearts as a leader of the grind line.  His incredibly quick skating, face-off prowess and defensive ability made him a great asset to the team.  He has missed several games this year due to injury and coach’s decision.

    He does still have value but has made it known he doesn’t want to play anywhere else.  The Wings will need to determine if the leadership ability that Draper brings is worth holding off bringing up one of the young guns.

    Chris Osgood

    Osgood became only the 10th goalie to reach 400 wins earlier this season.  An injury, followed by surgery, sidelined him for most of the season.

    His hall-of-fame career now hangs in the balance as the Wings decide what they want to do.  If Osgood decides to return for very cheap, then he might just be the veteran backup that the Wings will need to replace MacDonald.

    It is not likely that both of these players will be back next season.  There may be room for only one and it is possible that neither will return