Well, if the NHL Draft wasn’t enough excitement for you, good news: the NHL will kick off the free agency signing period Friday at noon. Don’t expect a quiet day from Steve Yzerman; after an active Draft that brought in 12 new prospects to the organization, Yzerman still has spots to fill on this still-rebuilding roster.
Priority number one, unsurprisingly, is expected to be goaltending. The Red Wings have moved on from longtime netminder Jimmy Howard, and with only Jonathan Bernier and Calvin Pickard under contract, Yzerman needs to lock down this position. Good news for him and fans is that this year’s goalie market is overflowing. Among the names of UFA goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Jacob Markstrom, Thomas Greiss, Anton Khudobin.
That’s just naming a handful! The tricky part here is not locking yourself into a long term contract, and keeping things affordable as the team continues to rebuild. My wishlist pick is Thomas Greiss here.
What about defense? Yzerman says he looks to add a couple of names to his blue line. The big name for Detroit has always been Torey Krug. You know the story there — Michigan kid, MSU alum, yadda yadda.. We can all agree that Krug would make this team better, but at what cost? I don’t think the Red Wings should be handing out massive UFA contracts right now. I’d rather focus in on players that could be turned into potential Draft stock. Guys like Michael Del Zotto or Mark Pysyk.
Up front, the Red Wings need help there, too. I look for a veteran like Kyle Turris, and maybe add some younger wingers to the likes of Anthony Duclair and MAYBE, just maybe... An Andreas Athanasiou reunion? The idea of adding Alexander Wennberg is also interesting... But how hot will the market be?
Yzerman has roster spots to fill and money to use. Trades are still possible, but it really sounds like the second-year GM is going to turn to free agency to get his team ready for next season. It wouldn’t surprise me if Yzerman stayed quiet on the UFA front for the first day or two... Don’t ask me why, it just seems like an Yzerman thing to do.
This column will act as our open thread for the day. Enjoy, and please be nice to one another!