The Detroit Red Wings certainly did not have the flashiest day, but it's hard to argue with what they did do and they didn't break the bank in the process.
GM Ken Holland re-signed Brad Stuart to a four year contract averaging $3.75 million per year. The price is definitely above what Holland was looking to sign, but I think Holland believes that the Wings are in good shape when it comes to the 2009-2010 salary cap so he could reward Stuart after a great postseason.
"They were pretty sure he could get $4 to $4.5 million," said Holland. "We paid a little bit more than we wanted to and he took a little bit less than he wanted to. But all deals made a compromises. He's got a home now." "We're obviously done on defense," added Holland. "We're still looking for a back-up goalie. If we can find a forward on a short-term deal to fill out our needs, great. But will that be this week or later in the summer, who knows."
GM Ken Holland got a veteran goaltender on board via a one-year contract with former Penguins back-up goalie Ty Conklin. At only $750,000, this seems like a very sound signing since Conklin was arguably the top available goaltender who would likely be relegated to back-up duty. Jimmy Howard can still earn the back-up role, but he has to outplay Conklin by a lot during training camp according to an article on MLive.com.
"Ty Conklin has the inside track, but if Jimmy Howard is the obvious No. 2 guy (in training camp and the preseason), we'll reassess," general manager Ken Holland said. "Do we carry three (goaltenders)?" Conklin, 32, received a one-way contract, meaning he will be paid the same whether he's on the NHL roster or in the minors. And there's a problem with sending him to the minors. If the Wings send him to Grand Rapids and he clears waivers, and then try to bring him back up on re-entry waivers, they will be responsible for half of his salary if another team were to claim him. The Wings have the option to send Howard down to Grand Rapids for one more season without clearing waivers.
All in all, it was a great first day of free agency for Wings fans. Mats Sundin is still available and considering a two-year, $20 million Vancouver Canucks contract. I still think the Wings have a strong shot at him because the guy wants to win a Cup, but it's going to come down to this question: "Would I rather make more money or win the Cup?" Only Sundin can answer that question and we'll find out the answer soon enough.