Continuing the look at the free agents that played for the Red Wings last year, we'll finish out with some of the young guys. We'll have one final post on the three defensemen (other than Lidstrom) that are free agents after this but today we'll look at some of the forwards, other than the ones Ryan presented last week.
The youngsters: Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller Luckily, all four of these guys are restricted free agents so the Red Wings will get draft picks if any of them sign with other teams.
Darren Helm has proven that he has what it takes to be a game-changer. He's an exceptional penalty killer with tremendous speed and presses on the forecheck. Given the puck in free space he can fly by anyone to the net and create scoring chances for himself. He's also emerging as a solid faceoff guy and works the corners with some good skill for his size (5'11", 172 lbs). He's yet to really show incredible numbers scoring wise but that could be on the horizon with his skill set developing still.
Prediction: Helm is re-signed for a long term deal, somewhere around 4-6 years. The organization and the fans alike love this guy and I expect Ken Holland to keep Helm in Detroit. I also think Helm wants to stay in Detroit so I think he's a definite.
Abdelkader spent a good amount of time with the Red Wings during the regular season during the injury span but was sent back to Grand Rapids in the middle of the season. Abdelkader has shown his value in the time he has been given in Detroit by hitting, forechecking, dropping the gloves, and scoring some goals of his own. He's a great asset for this team but might still be one year away from full-time duty. I think he would make the roster next season but depending on who else is brought back, he may rotate in and out.
Prediction: Abdelkader is brought back. He's the next generation Maltby--a grinder and agitator that can also score some goals. I think he gets a 3-year deal and has a future with the club.
Eaves was a great off-season acquisition by the front office last season and put up 12 goals and 10 assists. Eaves filled in great as penalty killer and formed a great energy line with Darren Helm and Kris Draper with his speed. Eaves has a lot of potential if given the opportunity and that opportunity may be in Detroit. If Eaves returns, expect a pay increase to the tune of between $600k-$850k and most likely a 2-3 year deal. It will be interesting to see how the return of Jiri Hudler and the new contract for Mattias Ritola will impact Eaves' chances of staying in Motown.
Prediction: Holland will work to sign Eaves but the way he played this year could open more doors for Eaves elsewhere. Eaves stays in the end.
Drew Miller had a career year in Detroit, scoring 10 of his 16 career goals while in Detroit. Miller fit in well as a penalty killer and grinder but is it enough to earn his keep? Miller could definitely earn a spot on the team but it might be rotating in and out based on the rest of the players in the system. Like Eaves, Miller might be able to use last year's performance as a sort of showcase for potential suitors.
Prediction: He ends up walking to a different team.