The Detroit Red Wings have been one of the best teams in the NHL. With the retirement of Brian Rafalski, the Wings have a big hole in defense and they will most likely sign a free agent to replace him.
The Wings may have been able to advance further in the Playoffs if they didn't lose forward Johan Franzen, but injuries happen and next season may be different. These are the five things Detroit needs to do in the offseason.
The Wings have a habit of singing old players. This sometimes pays off, but lately it has not. The Wings need to let their older players go and either sign younger players or give the boys on the farm club more ice time.
Many Detroit fans have great memories of Kris Draper and Chris Osgood. They are now past their prime and seem to only be bodies on the ice that do not find much success. Wings fans have a love/hate relationship with Osgood and for a good reason.
He has his hot streaks and his really bad nights. Detroit fans have two Stanley Cups from Osgood (three if you include his backup role in 1997), but lately he has not been able to do anything. This is in part due to injury, but even when he was healthy this season, he has let many soft goals in.
The 2010-11 season was terrible for him. He has not been able to post a GAA of under 2.5 in over three years. He needs to go.
As for Draper, he is also dead weight. This season he had 11 points.
He needs to go.
His numbers are dropping. Just because he is a well-known player does not mean he should be on the team. The Wings already had one of those players this season and his name is Mike Modano. Modano will most likely retire, but if he tries to play another season, I do not think Detroit will be the place.
He made a statement last season that he would only play for Dallas after Detroit let him go. Now it's time to let him go.
Many fans and critics have been calling for Hudler's head. He used to be good, but his salary is indeed way too much for the amount of goals he scores.
His upcoming salary is $3 million. He needs to step it up, but I would not call for a trade just yet.
Before leaving Detroit for the KHL, he was an up-and-coming star. He had 57 points. Unfortunately, his stardom waned and he had to come back to Detroit. This season he only had 37 points. It may just be a bad season for him.
Give him a chance.
If he is not up to standard, he could be a great trade option for Detroit.
Jimmy Howard is a good goaltender, but he is not a great goalie. He lets soft goals in and gives big rebounds. He reminds me of a young Chris Osgood. In the 2010-11 season, his GAA was 2.79.
He is slipping.
He can be good but he needs help. He needs a Mike Vernon to help him learn the ropes.
Detroit's best option is Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov wanted to play for Detroit this season but due to waiver-clearing issues, he was claimed by the New York Islanders.
An issue Detroit will face (if they want Nabokov) is actually getting him back. The Islanders gave Nabokov permission to play in the IIHF World Championships if they were allowed to extend his contract, since he refused to play this season.
This is when the Hudler trade could come in handy; if things do not work out for him in Detroit.
As for the fate of the current backup goalie, Joey MacDonald, he is in limbo. He is not a reliable goaltender. He is 30 years old and still has not made it as a starting goaltender. I give him props for continuing his quest to be a good NHL goaltender, but it will not happen. He was at the right place at the right time, and I do not think it would be wise to depend on him alone.
Currently, Detroit is without one assistant coach (Brad McCrimmon). McCrimmon has left the Wings in order to become a head coach in the KHL. The Wings may also be out of another coach. Assistant coach, Paul MacLean, has been interviewed by the Ottawa Senators for a head coach position.
Losing one coach is hard enough, but two? The Wings will have to do some serious thinking this off season.
Who knows, maybe they will convince Berry Smith to come back and coach.
Detroit is going to have to do some rebuilding, and what they fell short of this year was goal scorers.
The Wings have some money to throw around, and some key players they could sign are Ruslan Fedotenko and Eric Belanger. Both players have experience and can get points. They may not be the youngest guys in free agency, but they are not the oldest either. They would also be an excellent fit in the lineup.
Fedotenko was only paid $1 million last year, and in the 66 games he played, he had 25 points. Not too bad for a fourth-line center replacement for Kris Draper.
As for Belanger, he had 40 points last season and should be a cheap sign.
Brian Rafalski will not be an easy man to replace, and many names have been suggested to fill his spot. The truth is that no one can replace Rafalski. He was one of the greatest, not only because of his talents, but because he has a hometown hero.
Not many players can say that they have played for their home team.
He will be missed but someone has to fill his shoes.
Ed Jovanovski and James Wisniewski are most likely to replace Rafalski.
Wisniewski would be the best fit, because he is young and has great numbers. As for Jovanovski, a reunion with Todd Bertuzzi would be a nice fit.
The one problem that Detroit will face is that there are so many teams in the same boat as them. There are a lot of teams that need help on defense. The Wings are competing against everyone else to sign Jovanovski and Wisniewski.
Playing for Detroit is usually a proud moment for many players. There has been a lot of hockey history here and that tradition may bring big names to play for Detroit next season.