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Free Agency Recap: Looking at Red Wings transactions for day one

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Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars - Game Six Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The dust is beginning to settle in day one of free agency in the NHL, so we’re here to have a look back at what the Red Wings did, and how we feel about it. Making headlines was defenseman Trevor Daley signing a three-year deal after two seasons of hoisting with the Pittsburgh Penguins. We’ll start there.

Trevor Daley - Three years, $9.5 million

I think most of us expected a lot worse here. I was anticipating a deal to the tune of four years worth $16 million. The Red Wings get an affordable veteran defender who can still skate and contribute on the power-play. Sure, the contract details such as the NTC for the first two years and then limited NTC for year three are a pain, but that’s just how free agency works nowadays. Players control those sorts of stipulations. If you’re dead-set on getting him, you need to come to terms with something of the sort.

Signing grade: B+

Luke Witkowski - Two years, $1.5 million

The worst deal of the day. The Red Wings signed a Michigan guy with a bad reputation among fans for fighting Anthony Mantha, which cost him an injury. Witkowski is an aggressive, physical player who dishes out high energy using his strength. Basically, he’s another enforcer. He’s not going to give you offense, he’s not going to effectively kill penalties. He’s deterrent. Also worth noting that Helene St. James says he is more likely to play forward than defense. He is essentially Drew Miller’s replacement, assuming he gets an NHL spot.

Signing grade: D-

Thomas McCollum - Acquired from Calgary for conditional 2018 7th round pick

We all know what we have here. McCollum is a solid AHL goaltender who is familiar with the organization. A conditional 7th round pick is hardly an asset to care about, so I’m very “meh” on this. What this trade does do is raise a question — why another goalie? What does that mean for Petr Mrazek? My guess is that we’re going to see him moved from the Red Wings at some point this upcoming season.. Whether it’s via trade, or even worse - waivers.

Signing grade: Incomplete

Turner Elson - One year contract

This 24-year-old centerman has spent time between the Calgary and Colorado system over the last couple of years. He can provide a bit of offense at lower levels such as the AHL. This is nothing more than a depth signing. I imagine he’ll be on waivers out of camp.

Signing grade: Incomplete

Notable losses

Mitch Callahan signed a two-way deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Big loss for the Grand Rapids Griffins, not so much a loss for the organization as a whole. He was never a piece to the puzzle at the NHL level.

Kyle Criscuolo signed with the Buffalo Sabres. Great player who had an impact with the Griffins this past season. Scoring potential at the AHL level is there, not sure if there’s much of an NHL future.


The Red Wings made a key acquisition in Daley as a veteran defenseman who can eat up minutes now that players like Kronwall and Ericsson are very much in question. We’re unsure of what will happen in the coming months, but my guess is that you’ll see a young defenseman on waivers before the opening night roster is set, barring an injury or two.

It’s not a great crop of signings, but I’d say it’s palatable. I mean, at least we didn’t sign Dan Girardi.

Total grade: C+