The Detroit Red Wings entered this offseason assuming that their only real concern was Nicklas Lidstrom possibly retiring. If the reports are true, then they are in for a major upheaval next season. There has been a press conference called by the team and it appears that Brian Rafalski will be retiring. This will create a large hole on defense and that assumes that Lidstrom is still coming back. If he retires, then a complete rebuilding of the defense will need to occur.
The Red Wings went through, by their standards, a poor playoff season with an early exit in the second round for the second year in a row. The offseason was bound to see a few tweaks to the roster. They have nine players looking at free agency, however Chris Osgood, Kris Draper and Mike Modano are looking at retirement. Players like Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller are pretty easy signings, which only leaves a few spots open on the team.
Rafalski’s impending announcement will now put the Lidstrom watch on full alert as Red Wing fans will hold their collective breath until he makes his decision on retirement.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland will have a busy offseason as he seeks to fill at least one major roster spot. It looks like he will have Rafalski’s $6 million salary available. If Lidstrom also retires he will have over $12 million available.
Before he goes shopping it is important to review what he currently has and what is available for him. Most experts have remarked at the overall weakness of this year’s free-agent class. Despite there only being a few stud players available, there is still value to be had.
Here is a review of what the Red Wings have on defense and what options remain.