2012-13 Detroit Red Wings Pro/No: Tomas Holmstrom

Home sweet Holmstrom

As our joint venture with The Production Line concludes, today we look at the case for and against Tomas Holmstrom while going down the list of pending free agents and whether the fans think Detroit should bring them back into the fold.

Here's the background info for this season:

The Detroit Red Wings currently have 18 players under contract for the 2012-23 season with $44M committed to that group. While this is a CBA year and we can't be sure, we're assuming that the Wings will bring $26M in cap space to the bargaining table looking for a two forwards (including one top six forward), two defensemen, and a backup goaltender.

With that in mind, we'll start off with a guy who'll compete for one of those forward spots. Follow after the jump for the breakdown on Tomas Holmstrom .

THE VITALS
Tomas Holmstrom, Forward #96
39 Years Old (January 23, 1973)
6'0", 200 lbs
15 Full NHL Seasons (1,026 NHL regular season games played) - All with Detroit
Born in Piteå, Sweden; Drafted 257th overall in1994

STATISTICS
Regular Season - 74 games played, 11 goals, 13 assists, 40 PIM, -9, 11:52 TOI per game.
Playoffs - 5 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 PIM, +0, 9:48 TOI per game.

CONTRACT SITUATION
Holmstrom was paid $1.5M for his services last year in the 2nd of a two-year deal which averaged his salary out to $1.875M. He will be a UFA on July 1st and any multi-year contract he signs would fall within the over-35 rule. Regardless, a team can get no more than $100K in cap relief by sending him to the minors.

DEPTH SITUATION
Tomas Holmstrom spent last season as a fourth line plug-in who played as a power play specialist. Of his roughly 12 minutes of ice time per game, 3 of them were spent in front of the net on the power play. The decision for this year will be whether the Red Wings will have room for such a role.

CASE FOR HOLMSTROM
1) Nobody in the league and especially on the Wings is as good at the net-front game than the man who helped perfect it over his career. Homer is an absolute nightmare for goalies and defenders. Despite attempts to bring several people into a bigger part of the role, nobody has the intricacies of it even close.
2) Homer has a good pass and good vision, even when he's digging pucks out along the boards. His skillset extends beyond the area directly in front of the crease and he "gets it" out there on the ice with much more skilled players.
3) Homer is well-liked off the ice and a great fiery guy for them on the ice. Not many people care more about winning or hate losing than he does..

CASE AGAINST HOMSTROM
1) Time is absolutely catching up to Homer. He's not as able to fight off the abuse he takes and he's lost an additional step in his stride that he never had. There's no guarantee he'll be able to keep it all together for a final year.
2) With all the fire and passion of Holmstrom comes his reputation. Homer doesn't draw much for calls anymore and almost never gets the benefit of the doubt. We can argue all day about whether it's fair, but the results of the last few seasons have shown that won't do us any good. Holmstrom will simply draw fewer penalties than he should, take more penalties than he might deserve, and have more goals waved off than a similar player in the same circumstances.
3) This feels like an automatic, but Homer being on the roster means that a younger player the Wings may need to develop will not be. He may have scored 10 goals as the team's power play specialist, but his specialty was in an area that badly underperformed last season and that may cost him.

WHAT HE'S SAYING
Homer is currently mulling whether he wants to retire or come back for another year. He'll meet with Ken Holland next week to discuss his future. He tells The Detroit News "Some days I feel like yes (I'll return), and some days no, and some days it's just aches and pain," but he also recognizes the choice may not be entirely his. Regardless, it seems as though it's Detroit or nothing for Homer.

SALARY RANGE
Homer's $1.5M salary is probably higher than he would be able to make on a follow-up contract, it's just hard to read by how much. Homer could go for anywhere in the $750K all the way up to $1.5M range.

POTENTIAL REPLACEMENTS

Internal :: The Wings have been using Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi in the role of the net-front presence guy for increasing amounts of time since Homer's relegation down to the fourth line. Justin Abdelkader, Drew Miller, or dark horse Joakim Andersson might also compete for the specialized role.
External :: Ryan Smyth comes immediately to mind as the best alternative to exactly what Holmstrom brings. He also comes off a $4.5M salary though. It's possible that guys like Jarret Stoll, Jay McClement, or Gregory Campbell might take to his role, but net-front specialists are something of a rare breed in today's NHL.

WHAT DO YOU THINK
Please use the form below to give us your take on whether the Wings should try to get Tomas Holmstrom back at a reasonable rate. Then, sound off in the comments with your thoughts. Voting will stay open for 48 hours. Thanks!

Voting has now closed. Thank you to all who participated. Stay tuned in the next week for the results.

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