Is the biggest offseason in years for the Detroit Red Wings upon us?
TSN's Bob McKenzie reported on Tuesday that "The Detroit Red Wings, I think, want to make some big moves." And "I think they want to try and clear the decks, and if Steven Stamkos becomes available, I think they might be inclined to be a player on that front."
TSN's Darren Dreger also mentioned Stamkos and the Wings trying to go after him;
And...who's saying they won't go after a big free agent? If Stamkos is free, why wouldn't Detroit try? https://t.co/Mo9K2Wh0EG— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 11, 2016
That gives you a sense of what type of offseason it could be.
For Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, moving Datsyuk's contract as early next week (unless Datsyuk has had a change of heart) would be helpful. There are limited options to accomplish this with Arizona and Carolina being mentioned the most.
The other part of the Stamkos derby is when it becomes clear Tampa Bay has no chance to retain him does Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman move his rights before the June 25th free agent interview period begins? Should Holland acquire those rights and at what cost? He may only want to consider that after he has moved Datsyuk's contract.
Lets take a look at what some players rights have been traded for. Obviously these players are no Stamkos but it gives us an idea of how much more would need to be included for a Stamkos rights trade.
The Dallas Stars acquired the rights for Antti Niemi from the San Jose Sharks for the 193rd pick in the 2015 draft. The Sharks traded Dan Boyle's rights to the Islanders for a conditional 5th round pick in 2014. Also in 2014, the Washington Capitals traded the rights to Jaroslav Halak to the New York Islanders for a 4th round draft pick. That is the most a team has received in a pending unrestricted free agent rights trade since the latest CBA was agreed to.
A rights trade with Stamkos and the Red Wings would seem unlikely as the timing, (unless Datsyuk's contract is moved early next week) just doesn't align correctly. Detroit, like other teams can talk to Stamkos next Saturday the 25th. Teams are not supposed to discuss a contract at that time but who are we kidding?
As agent Allan Walsh told Sportsnet "Teams are going into July 1 with their deals in hand. The players are pretty much signed by the end of the interview period, and July 1 is pretty much a formality now as opposed to a frenzy. And the word frenzy is a great description of what used to happen on July 1."
What about Jimmy Howard? Would the Calgary Flames be interested in making a move? If Howard is going to be moved this summer it would be in the best interest of everyone involved if that also happens sooner rather than later. Not only so the Red Wings can sign an experienced backup in early July, but also to give the team options to pursue an upgrade on the blueline via trade that can fit under the salary cap.
Ansar Kahn of MLive mentioned that Jacob Trouba or Kevin Shattenkirk would " would cost more, perhaps more than the Red Wings have or are willing to deal."
With the AP Reporting "NHL Settles on Las Vegas for Expansion" McKenzie also mentioned "I think next week is going to be a fascinating week in the National Hockey League. May well have the official expansion announcement. If that’s the case, there’s an expansion draft in there, and that triggers a lot of different moving parts on that whole front."
That could open some interesting possibilities for Detroit, with the potential for extra players being available for trade so that they or a different player are not lost in the possible expansion draft. A good scenario would be a few unexpected good defenseman now becoming available.
It could also crowd the goalie market more with few teams looking for a starter. For example a team like Pittsburgh, having Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury in net knows one of them has to be moved before the expansion draft next summer or risk losing Murray for nothing as Fleury has a no-movement clause and must be protected as the expansion draft rules are understood today.
Does expansion force the Red Wings into almost guaranteeing Howard is dealt before free agency? The thinking being you couldn't deal Howard during the regular season without having an experienced backup for Petr Mrazek. Dealing him before free agency gives Holland a chance to sign a backup goaltender. If Howard is back for another season in Detroit, who knows what the goalie market will be like and if any teams would make a move for him before the expansion draft knowing they can only protect one goalie.
Regardless of what happens moving Datsyuk's contract has to happen in order for the Red Wings to be players in the Stamkos derby. However if the price of moving that contract is higher than has been publicly reported than Holland should stand pat and let the young guys fill the void.
If by July 3rd the Wings have virtually the same roster with no major additions and just depth tweaks after all the rumblings of change Hockeytown will turn from grumbling to anger.