The first four days of July are extremely busy for folks across North America. With July 1st being Canada Day and the United States celebrating their Independence Day three days later, there’s a lot going on at the beginning of the month. While these are exciting holidays, neither are as exciting as one of the most famous holidays for hockey fans in the United States and Canada: NHL free agency.
July 1st symbolizes the beginning of the league new year which is one of the wildest days in the hockey world as teams try to overpay for a piece that could be the difference maker for their team the next season. This year, due to Covid-19, hockey fans were robbed of this exciting and action filled day since the playoffs were pushed back to late summer.
As a Red Wings fan, this is disappointing since the draft lottery was such a tough day for the organization and our next sniff of Red Wings action (besides the draft) will be free agency. But it can be looked at as good news for the team as well. The Red Wings clearly have a lot of holes in their roster and are going to have a lot of cap space when the season is over to sign players in free agency. With the start of the qualifying round on August 1st, it allows the management in the organization, as well as Wings fans, to get a good look at some solid upcoming free agents that Stevie Y could target to help speed up the rebuild.
These upcoming free agents are in no particular order. Just free agents that would be good fits in Detroit based on things like age, experience, cap space, etc.
2019-2020 Cap Hit: $5.25 Million
Born and raised in Michigan, Torey Krug is a tough two-way defenseman who has been a staple of the revitalized Boston Bruins team that made an appearance and lost in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. He was a key cog on the defensive corps logging 2 goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games for the Bruins last year. He immediately kept his pace rolling in this year’s shortened season by putting up 9 goals and 49 points in 64 games. Other than Filip Hronek, Detroit does not have a defenseman who can consistently put up offensive numbers throughout the season. Krug has proven time and time again he can jump up on plays and contribute offensively. The key is getting him to Detroit. Krug’s camp should ask for around $6-7 million a year but he’s a hometown boy and players love the opportunity to play for the team they rooted for growing up. Detroit will have the cap space to sign him and Boston is up to their necks in heavy contracts and may not have the room to re-sign him unless they do some serious restructuring. There is no doubt the Livonia, Michigan native would bring some much-needed offense to the blue line as well as a strong physical presence in the defensive and neutral zones for Detroit.
2019-2020 Cap Hit: $5.5 Million
Barrie’s had a tough time adjusting since being traded by the Avalanche to the Maple Leafs after the 18-19 season. In the shortened 2019-2020 season Barrie had 5 goals and 39 points in 70 games which is a significant drop from his 2018-2019 season when he had 14 goals and 59 points in 78 games. Barrie’s expectations in Toronto were to be a top pair offensive defenseman who can put up flashy numbers like that of Morgan Reilly. Those were unrealistic expectations for Barrie going in as he is not that type of player and it was unfair for the Toronto media to portray him that way. Barrie is a solid two-way defender who can move the puck out of the zone and throw it around in the offensive zone a bit to help produce some consistent offense. After his drop-in numbers this season, his camp will probably be seeking $5-6 million AAV when he becomes a free agent. Toronto, like Boston, will not have the cap room to re-sign him since they have such a loaded roster and so much money tied up in their big four and Morgan Reilly. Barrie has great vision and is great at making the first pass out of the defensive zone through the neutral zone to start offensive pushes. He would be a great up-and-down the ice defenseman for Detroit who can bolster the defensive corps and contribute offensively as an added bonus.
2019-2020 Cap Hit: $4 Million
As shown by Detroit’s goal differential this season (-122 in 71 GP yikes!) it’s very clear that the Red Wings have issues. There are lots of ways to fix goal differential though, such as stronger goaltending or better defensive play. The most obvious fix is to put the puck in the back of the net. Dadonov would help immensely with that. In the shortened 2019-2020 season Dadonov had 25 goals and 47 points in 69 games. The season before in 2018-2019 he amassed 28 goals and 70 points in 82 games. Dadonov is a strong durable right winger who has a nose for the back of the net, something Detroit desperately needs. Dadonov is 31 but he still has a lot of gas left in the tank and has to be searching to get past that 30-goal mark in a season since he has not yet done so in his NHL career. Due to his age, his camp will probably want around $5.5-6 million a year but I believe Dadonov will sign for somewhere between $4.5 and $5.5 million due to the fact that he has never surpassed the 30-goal mark even though he has come extremely close multiple times. As we’ve seen from Yzerman’s days in Tampa Bay, he is not opposed to bringing in Russian players. If he pulls the trigger on Dadonov it would bring a much-needed scoring presence to Detroit and a guy who can slot in the first or second power play unit as well as in the top six forward group. This will allow him to become a difference maker for the Red Wings if he plays with any combination of Larkin, Bertuzzi, Mantha, Zadina, or Fabbri.
Who do you think Detroit should sign in this upcoming offseason? Leave your choices in the comments below.