Ah, the free agent signing period. The spot in the summer where some teams make enormous moves to gain ground on their opponents and others make horrible, horrible decisions and bury the team in cap hell. As far as tracking where every free agent in the NHL signs, it becomes an outright nightmare to try and do so. But with the Red Wings looking to re-sign some key players, we'll be able to handle this on the Detroit home front I think.
We'll take a look at who's a pending UFA, RFA, the current cap situation, budget remaining, key needs and potential targets for Detroit heading into the July 1 frenzy.
(Note: All information regarding contracts via CapGeek.com)
Pending UFA's: Jason Williams , Andreas Lilja, Kirk Maltby, Brett Lebda, Jeremy Williams, Ryan Oulahen, Riley Armstrong
Pending RFA's: Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Derek Meech, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Sergei Kolosov, Johan Ryno, Evan McGrath, Daniel Larsson, Jamie Tardif.
Cap space/current 10-11 cap hit: $54,192,045
Projected budget: $5,207,955
Key needs: Really, the key needs are the players that were under contract with the team last year. After that, the Wings may look into adding a tough guy (either forward or defense) or a veteran forward.
Potential targets: The targets that the Red Wings have are practically all in-house. They want to keep Abdelkader, Helm, Eaves and maybe even Meech. Outside of them, potential targets could be:
- Mike Modano: the 40 year-old Detroit area native was dumped by the Stars and he would provide the veteran leadership that Holland is always looking for.
- Arron Asham: a grade A agitator with a tad of scoring flair at times, Asham would provide that bit of growl that the Wings lacked at times last season.
- Garnet Exelby: physical defenseman that throws his weight around and plays a decent defensive game at the same time.
- Marc-Andre Bergeron: the defenseman most recently with Montreal would be an excellent fit on the power play with his rocket of a shot and for a very low price as well.
What do we know?
At this point a few things are clear in terms of who is definitely on the way out and who is most likely to sign. Jason Williams, Larsson, Lilja, May, Maltby, Ryno, Tollefsen, Lebda and McGrath are all on the way out of the system. That cleans up some substantial room on the Wings NHL roster as well as the Grand Rapids roster. Detroit will do everything possible to keep Helm and Abdelkader in town and I really don't think there's much chance that either would jump ship. Eaves should be a "yes" but you never really know and Miller is a player that is expendable but also would provide depth should the Red Wings need him.
With the players under contract and the likely return of Helm, Abdelkader, and Eaves, the Red Wings will have 13 potential forwards for next year and 6 possible defenders so expect all of the free agent signings to be for depth, not starting positions. However, if the Red Wings do go outside of the their own players that are UFAs or RFAs, a signing like Modano or Exelby would provide a starter on the team.
What do YOU want?
Tell us what you think the Wings should do on July 1 to kick off the free agency period.