The last two months have brought a lot of change for the Detroit Red Wings. Brian Rafalski has retired, Chris Osgood and Kris Draper likely won't see contract renewals, and Ruslan Salei and Mike Modano definitely won't see contract renewals.
There's some holes to fill, but not as many as people may think. For starters, Jakub Kindl is ready to completely take over as a year-round third line defender.
Also, Jan Mursak's contract is now converted to one-way, so the Red Wings have no choice but to add him as a forward.
Regardless, as it stands right now, the Red Wings have $16 million in cap space with three defenders, a forward and a backup goalie to sign.
That's plenty of money to plug any holes and then some, so let's look at what players Detroit should and should not go after once free agency begins on Friday.
Kevin Bieksa is a player most people seem to think will stay in Vancouver.
That may be true, but as of this writing (Monday June 27th), the Canucks only have four days to re-sign him before he's available to 29 other teams.
Bieksa is a player I began to watch during the playoffs, and needless to say, I liked what I saw. Is he Nicklas Lidstrom's future replacement? No. But the fact of the matter is, nobody will replace Lidstrom.
He's also pretty good at his statue impersonations.
For some reason, Giguere seems like the typical guy Ken Holland would sign. He does have a good amount of playoff experience as a starting goaltender, which Detroit knows all too much about.
That said, Detroit shouldn't sign Giguere. While he's had his great moments, his overall career could be considered average.
Last season, Giguere was paid $6 million by Toronto to only play in 33 games. In those games, Giguere posted a 2.9 goals-against average while only stopping 90 percent of the shots against him.
While he'll likely see a large chunk of that $6 million taken off his next contract, it's not likely that Giguere will go under the $2 million marker, which is definitely what Detroit should be looking for in a backup goaltender.
Assuming Ken Holland tells Chris Osgood that he won't be receiving a contract offer, the Wings are going to need someone to replace Ozzy as a backup.
Ray Emery proved to be a great backup this year for Jonas Hiller, and even had to start at one point when Hiller was injured.
He may have only played in 10 games last season, but a 2.3 goals against average and a .926 SV% is something to look twice at.
There are a few complications here though. First, Emery is somewhat injury-prone and has a bit of an attitude problem. Secondly, he might want to go somewhere where he has the chance of being the starting netminder.
Either way, Ken Holland should look into giving Emery's agent a call on July 1st.
When I heard the rumors that Ken Holland was thinking of trading Jiri Hudler and some draft picks to Washington for Mike Green, I nearly cried.
But I didn't nearly cry because Hudler's salary would be gone, I nearly cried because replacing his awful contract with Mike Green at $5 million would be even worse.
I prefer to think of Yandle as "Mike Green West." He's a glorified forward playing the point and looking silly when he goes the other way.
Granted, Yandle to Detroit rumors haven't really gone anywhere. Let's hope it stays that way.
Another Vancouver defender? Well, this is obviously conditional. Bieksa went first because I'd prefer him if the choice was up to me and not Vancouver's management.
Vancouver likely won't let both Bieksa and Ehrhoff go but probably won't be able to sign both either. That means one of them will likely fall to free agency.
For those who think Detroit needs somebody who plays like Brian Rafalski did, Ehrhoff would be a good replacement.
During the regular season, Ehrhoff had an admirable 50 points, and during the Stanley Cup playoffs, he registered 12 points.
Jaromir Jagr certainly has a lot of things good about him. He's an experienced veteran who easily makes the cut for the NHL's top 50 players of all time. He's still averaging a point per game in the KHL, and his size is good for the NHL, at 6' 3" weighing 240 pounds.
And those are all reasons the Red Wings shouldn't sign him...
Let's look first at his averaging a point per game in the KHL. The Red Wings already have a player that did that, and he absolutely flopped when he came back to the NHL. If you'll remember correctly, that's Jiri Hudler.
While his size is good, three years in the KHL has likely made Jagr much softer. You can be as big as you want and not be able to give or take a hit. Just look at Jonathan Ericsson, the guy is 6' 5" and hits like my sister. OK, I don't have a sister, but you get the point.
Finally, I made mention of the fact that he's an experienced veteran who can be considered in the NHL's top 50 players. Why shouldn't the Wings sign him for that reason? Money. Jagr will likely demand more than he's worth, and while the Detroit has the money, they can better spend it in other areas.
At first glance, Detroit would seem to have a lot of centers on their roster. However, don't be deceived by the position title. Valterri Filppula will frequently play on the wing, Mike Modano is gone, Tomas Tatar won't be up in Detroit for another year, and Corey Emmerton will likely be an extra if he isn't traded.
Fleischmann would be a great addition for the Red Wings down the middle. He was drafted by Detroit, has yet to be signed by Colorado, and despite only playing in 45 games last season, Fleischmann registered 31 points.
That productivity has increased every year, as Fleischmann's best season came when he posted 51 points in 69 games with Washington.
At the right cost, Tomas Fleischmann could be a very effective improvement to Detroit's offense at a relatively low cost.
This move just has bad written all over it. Barring a pay cut, Richards would take nearly half of Detroit's cap space, and it would be spent all in an area they don't need much improvement in.
For the most part, Detroit's offense will remain the same as it was last year, which is nothing to be worried about considering they were ranked second overall in goals during the regular season.
The defense, however, is taking a major change with Brian Rafalski and Ruslan Salei gone. Jonathan Ericsson will likely be back, but after being ranked 23rd overall defensively, Detroit could definitely use a face-life on the blue line.
The point here is, Detroit needs to get better on the back end, not on the front end, and signing Brad Richards would keep Detroit from making the necessary improvements to win the Stanley Cup.
Ian White is another guy I started watching this year. I think he would be a good addition to the Red Wings' blue line, not the least of which being that he's relatively cheap.
While his regular season offensive production wasn't great, he put up nine points in 17 games during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.
To add to that, White is a shot-blocking machine, which Detroit could definitely use on their 17th ranked penalty kill. White had 144 blocked shots during the regular season, which is more than any defenseman the Red Wings' employed last season.
At the right cost, Ian White could be the perfect addition for a fifth defenseman for the Red Wings.
If I even hear rumors of this, I might have a fit reminiscent of when I was six years old.
Kaberle's Stanley Cup ring has likely saved him from a hefty cut in his contract but don't let that ring fool you. Kaberle was virtually non-existent during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
His playing style is remarkably similar to the Mike Green style of defense I described earlier, and though Kaberle may be slightly better on the defensive end, Green brings it right back up to a par will what he gains in offensive talent. Either way, I wouldn't want Green and I don't want Kaberle.
The question is, what can Detroit do to bring their 23rd ranked defense up to Stanley Cup levels, and the answer to that question is not Tomas Kaberle.
I should clarify this a bit, I want Detroit to trade for Bogosian and then sign him. Regardless, it ends in the same result.
Bogosian would be a terrific addition to the Red Wings' blue line. While he's still learning, he'd have an opportunity to learn from some of the best in Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios. (Who I believe helps out with the main roster in training camp)
Bogosian turns 21 and has a long way to go in his career, which should make him that much more appealing to the Red Wings.
The question is, how much will they have to give for him. I'm open to dumping Hudler and Emmerton plus a few draft picks in order to get hold of Bogo.
The only guarantee I can make is, whether or not he's in a Red Wings sweater next season remains to be seen, but Bogosian definitely won't be in a Thrashers jersey.