The NHL free agency period kicks off this Wednesday at noon EDT. In the few days between the draft and the start of free agency, we as fans have a chance to debate what the Wings should or should not do this offseason. The blogging crew here at WIM should have some more in-depth posts up about specific players/news until then, but here's a summary to kick off discussions.
2009 NHL Free Agency: What The Wings Should Do
Pending UFAs: Marian Hossa, Mikael Samuelsson, Ty Conklin, Chris Chelios, Darren McCarty, Aaron Downey, Tomas Kopecky
Pending RFAs: Jiri Hudler, Ville Leino, Evan McGrath, Ryan Oulahen
Salary cap space: $4.5-million (approximately)
Projected budget: $56.8-million
Key needs: With the Wings up against the salary cap, don't expect any big splashes in the offseason. Holland will likely find a role player or two to fit our needs on offense for the fourth line, but Detroit is mostly set this year. A lot depends on Hossa. If he stays, the Wings will need to trade away guys to make room under the cap and find some cheap talent and fast. If he goes, there will be more money to target a second or third line player.
Potential targets: Samuel Pahlsson, Chad LaRose, John Madden, P.J. Axelsson, Ian Laperriere
What our Central Division opponents want: Second City Hockey (Blackhawks), The Cannon (Blue Jackets), On the Forecheck (Predators), and St. Louis Game Time (Blues)
What We Do Know: The Red Wings have informed Ty Conklin (goaltender) and Chris Chelios (defenseman) that they will not be offering them deals. Due to the salary cap and Jimmy Howard having to clear waivers now, there's just not room for Conklin. Detroit has offered Darren McCarty a two-way contract, which would allow him to stay with the Wings but will keep him down in Grand Rapids for most of the season. He has not made his decision yet.
If Marian Hossa is not re-signed by today, GM Ken Holland could try to trade away the negotiating rights to the star forward. As we pointed out on Sunday, it's not looking like the Wings are going to get a deal done. If that's the case, let's hope Detroit can get something positive out of it.
Based on their playoff performances, Darren Helm (forward) and Jonathan Ericsson (defenseman) have earned spots on the roster so that will help offset whatever personnel losses the Wings experience during free agency. If Holland can re-sign RFA Ville Leino, he should also join the Red Wings' lineup this upcoming season. Should Hossa stay and the roster is short a few players, expect Holland to insert Justin Abdelkader into the lineup purely for financial reasons.
Now It's Your Turn: Who do you want to see stay or go? Who do you want to see Detroit target this summer? Tell us know in the comments.