For the past few days I have had this sensation growing in my guts. A kind of hope that comes around this time of year. Free agency is coming. And this year is especially exciting because of the compliance buyouts around the league. Along with the usual crop of sub-par free agents, there are a few exciting names that have been bought out in the last few days who may actually help the Wings. Specifically Danny Briere and more excitingly Vinny Lecavalier. The thought of replacing Filppula with Lecavalier on the second line makes my soul light up like a Christmas tree.
Unfortunately, there is a little thing called reality and so my optimism is already failing. As J.J. pointed out earlier, there seem to be reasons to think we won't get Lecavalier, and Briere has about 15 suitors. And there is talk that Lecavalier may look for a one-year deal then go back to Tampa. Of course, if that is the case I would be fine signing him to a one-year deal at a high price to give us one good year with a top-flight 2nd center. But really, landing either of these two seems like a stretch.
The UFA class this year is sub-par. Horton would be good, but his injury history and high price tag make him a bad idea. Jagr (and Iginla assuming he hits the market) are too old, but may be okay on a relatively cheap, one-year contract ($4mil or so). Bickell seems to be the likeliest signing for Detroit. The wings have apparently expressed interest in him, and one betting sight has Detroit at 1/1 odds of landing him. Of course, this would be greatly upsetting since he was a giant dick in the playoffs (which maybe we will enjoy if he is in the Winged Wheel, but for now, screw him).
Last year around this time my heart was swelled with hope. And it cannot be overstated exactly how big a disappointment last off-season was for the Wings. Parise andSutter were supposed to be Wings. We all know how that turned out. Carle and Semin? Also gone. Kenny did manage to snag Gustavsson, Tootoo, Samuelsson, and Colaiacovo. Gustavsson was terrible but may be salvageable. The other three are all leading candidates to be traded or waived with the exemption. Seriously, I love Ken Holland, but last year has to be one of the worst GM mistakes we've seen.
So with that in mind, my real expectations for this coming free agency period are keeping all our RFA, re-signing Brunner to a good deal, Cleary to an upsetting deal (just because we don't have space for him), and not much else. As I said earlier, Bickell seems the most likely to sign here of the "name" free-agents, but his price tag is going to be high.
Of course, that isn't going to stop me from refreshing Twitter every hour praying to every hockey god that Lecavalier is going to be in Red and White next season.