Following Brian Rafalski's retirement, Ken Holland had $6 million fall into his lap unexpectedly, and began to question whether it was time to start bringing youth to the Detroit Red Wings. Assuming the cap reaches $62 million as expected, Holland will have $22 million to spend, with few holes to fill.
Kris Draper and Chris Osgood have both expressed a desire to return to Detroit for a final year, but Holland remains unsure of whether or not he will need their services.
With that in mind, it's time to look at thirteen players who may or may not don the Winged Wheel next season.
I should start this by saying that I do think Kris Draper will be offered a contract by Ken Holland. That said, I believe it will be a two-way contract, much like the deal Holland gave Kirk Maltby last season.
Detroit already has 12 forwards under contract, including Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton, who would both have to clear waivers to go back to Grand Rapids.
Those 12 forwards don't include Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, both of whom Ken Holland desires to keep on the Red Wings. Assuming just one of the two receives a contract, The Red Wings will have 13 forwards, which is all they would need.
The amount of time that it is taking Lidstrom to make his decision is making me a bit nervous, last year he decided to return at the beginning of June. That said, my gut tells me that Lidstrom has far too much good hockey left in him to leave.
Lidstrom's decision will definitely effect how active the Red Wings are in free agency, and might effect whether or not Ken Holland shows interest in restricted free agent Shea Weber.
I'm gonna be honest, I hate Jonathan Ericsson. When he debuted in the 2009 playoffs he looked like a defensive stud. He still has flashes of brilliance where he looks like he could be a great player, but after watching him in the 2011 playoffs, he looks more lazy than he does talented.
With that in mind, I wouldn't have a problem with the Red Wings keeping Ericsson at a decent price, but apparently Jonathan's greed matches his laziness. Holland reportedly offered Ericsson a 2 year, $4 million contract, which Ericsson turned down.
If it were up to me, I wouldn't even have offered that much, based on his recent performance, he's not worth it. And I certainly hope Holland wouldn't be stupid enough to offer him even more than the $2 million a year that Ericsson turned down. Holland himself has said the salary cap era is about getting more for less, not less for more, and I hope he sees that Ericsson isn't worth that much money.
If Ericsson has a change of heart and decides to come back for less, I'd be OK with that, but at over $2 million a year, I don't think he's worth it, and I don't think Ken Holland would either.
This kid looks like a stud. Sure, one goal in 19 games last season isn't much, but after watching his play night in and night out, you can tell the points will begin to follow.
Mursak's forechecking reminds me much of Darren Helm, but he seems to have the big thing that Helm lacks: Hands. I think everybody understands that if Helm could generate a decent deke, he'd score 30-40 goals a year. Mursak is slightly slower than Helm, but still seems to have great hands on him, and he could end up being a star.
Mursak's current contract with the Red Wings has turned into a one-way deal, and there's no way he'd clear waivers to go to back to Grand Rapids. He'll wear the Winged Wheel at some point next year, even if he is just the guy that's worked into the lineup every now and then.
This is a conditional prediction. The condition is that Hudler will be gone if Holland can find anybody willing to take him.
I'd love to see him packaged with one or two other players to the Winnipeg WhateverThey'reCalled's for Zach Bogosian.
I honestly don't know if Miller will return or not. I think he's certainly valuable to the Wings, the question is if he's one too many forwards for the Wings to take on.
I think Emmerton will be the victim of too many forwards, much like Kris Draper. Emmerton goes over Mursak for multiple reasons. He's older than Mursak and isn't as talented.
I think that when Hudler is traded, Emmerton will be included in whatever deal they can get.
Eaves is impossible to let go in my opinion. He had a short burst of excellence which made us all believe he might be the player the Hurricanes once thought he was. Then he got injured.
Still, 13 goals in 63 games for a player who spends most of his time on the 4th line or on a penalty kill is very good. Expect a heavier salary for Eaves than he got this year, but I think his paycheck will still be Imported from Detroit.
Two Words: "Thank God".
Two Words: "Thank God".
Smith is someone I'm excited to see in a Wings jersey. With the possible exception of Adam Almqvist, Smith is the best defensive prospect currently in the Wings' system.
He's extremely talented offensively, and depending on Lidstrom's decision, he could potentially become just as good defensively under the Wing (pun intended) of one of the best defensemen ever.
Not gonna happen this year. Look for him to make his full time debut for the Wings next year.
Going back to Ruslan Salei for a minute... Why was he started over Kindl in the playoffs?
Kindl only played 41 games last season as the Wings 7th defenseman, but by the end of the season, he looked far better than he did at the start. If Kindl continues to progress, he could easily be an above average defender for the Wings.
OK... This one was just too easy.
Along with Kris Draper, Chris Osgood is waiting for Ken Holland to decide whether or not he wants Osgood's services. I honestly think Holland will give Ozzy good news.
It's really a low risk proposition for Detroit. If Osgood gets injured, he'll just be put on LTIR, his salary wont count against the cap, and Detroit can call up another goalie. All the while they get to keep their reputation as a team that stays loyal to its veteran players.