There comes a time in the hockey offseason where news dries up and the content machine slows to a crawl. This phenomenon usually occurs around August-September. It’s far enough from the draft and free agency that nothing new has come, and too far from the preseason to make any big predictions. This time of the year is commonly referred to (by me) as Offseason Purgatory. The biggest thing in Red Wings land that’s happened over the last few weeks was Filip Zadina signing a contract extension. You can only talk about the potential of that deal for so long!
With that said, drastic times have brought out drastic measures. I have partnered with Riley McPherson, another beloved WiiM writer, to bring you the worst possible thing we could come up with: rancid roster additions.
The worst, most toxic players we could possibly think of acquiring and how the fanbase would react. Stick around — you’re probably going to hate this.
(Note: We have chosen not to include players like Evander Kane and Tony DeAngelo for fairly obvious reasons. We don’t want actual bad people on the roster.)
1. Tom Wilson
Kicking this one off with a bang, we’re going for the worst possible vibes we can: Tom Wilson. You might remember Wilson from the time he knocked current Red Wing Oskar Sundqvist out for half a year. Maybe you recall the time he beat up Artemi Panarin and fundamentally broke the New York Rangers. No matter what you may think of him, Wilson is the kind of player that can get under another person’s skin without as much as lifting a finger.
Jake’s thoughts: Well, uh, Tom Wilson would certainly be an addition you could make to the Wings. Whether you love him or hate him, he’s the kind of player that brings the energy come playoff time. If you get him going enough, he can leave opposing teams shaken up and unable to pull it together. With the Wings, he’d add some additional depth scoring and a few extra hard hits. As long as he can stay out of the penalty box, this wouldn’t be that bad.
Riley’s thoughts: This is...certainly an option. Wilson can bring a bit of protection to the Wings young forwards that he plays with and bring physical play that the team could really use. His 240 hits last year were 79 more than anyone in Detroit. On top of that, he would’ve been fourth on the Red Wings in points and while yes, that benefits from playing with the greatest pure goal scorer in history, he still would bring a great depth scoring option to a team that needs it. The biggest worry is his reputation as a dirty player, but last season, he actually had fewer penalty minutes than Givani Smith who played 30 fewer games. All in all, absolutely worth the risk to bring the kind of production he does to this team.
The cost: Wilson’s contract takes him through the end of 2023-24. Barring an implosion from the Washington Capitals, it’s unlikely he’s going anywhere. That being said, Wilson will be around 30 by the time he hits free agency. If the Red Wings can snatch him on a cheap deal, he’d be a great playoff grinder/depth scorer for the organization.
The reaction: Everyone would be upset for a little while, then they’d be happy when Wilson scores a bit, then mad when he inevitably gets suspended.
2. Brad Marchand
Speaking of toxicity, who better to add some sinister energy than Brad Marchand? The Boston Bruins’ top-line forward might be one of the most hated players in the NHL. Whether it be for the infamous “lick” or the way he’s always able to get under the skin of his opposition, Marchand tops nearly every “most-hated” list out there.
Jake’s thoughts: Okay, let’s be real here: Marchand has 118 points in 139 career playoff games. He’s a consistent 60-80+ point forward and among the absolute best wingers in the NHL. You can hate him all you want, but I am willing to bet the entirety of my meager life’s savings that any team would be overjoyed to have Marchand on the roster.
Riley’s thoughts: Look, Brad Marchand is a pain in the ass of every single opponent of his and I totally get anyone who hates him. But the guy is a damn good hockey player and had more points than every Red Wing in each of the last seven seasons. If he came to Detroit, he would immediately be loved by the majority of people here and eventually, everyone.
The cost: The Bruins are about one bad season away from a complete implosion. Marchand is 34. By the time they’re imploding and the Wings are contending, he’ll be making a tidy $6.125M/year — and his contract only runs through 2024-25. If Yzerman & co. think that year is “the year”, they may very well drop a high pick to net a coveted forward, barring any nosedives in his production.
The reaction: Other teams in the NHL will shake their fists angrily and make licking jokes at the Red Wings all the way to their inevitable playoff elimination.
3. Corey Perry
Corey Perry has been the definition of a physical goal scorer since the mid-2000s. However, with that physical play comes a bit of an edge and occasional dirty play. Most infamously, Perry was ejected and received a five-game suspension in 2019-20 after a vicious elbow in the Winter Classic against Nashville. It’s easy for Red Wings fans to hate him so much due to Detroit facing the Ducks three different times in the playoffs. Also, his fight with Pavel Datsyuk is still one Wings fans remember.
Jake’s thoughts: This is a nightmare signing. I knew we were going toxic, but Corey Perry? Bleak. Perry’s old now and a shell of the player he once was. In fact, I’d be surprised if this season doesn’t wind up being his last. If he does come back and the Wings get him on a $1M deal, he’s one of those players that tends to go off come playoff time. That kind of boon on a team’s bottom-six is spectacular.
Riley’s thoughts: Honestly, to me, the much bigger issue with bringing in Perry would be his age rather than his dirty play. But his 40 points for the Lightning last season as well as 11 in the postseason made a great impact and would be a great veteran presence in the locker room. He’d only be with the Wings for a couple of seasons at most to end his career to give the third line some scoring as they go from mediocre to competing.
The cost: Perry just has one year left on his two-year deal with Tampa Bay where he was only making $1 million a year. Wherever he signs in the 2023 offseason will probably bring a similar deal that will have minimal impact on the Red Wings salary cap.
The reaction: Some Red Wings fans will be annoyed for signing a “dirty” player to their team while others will be annoyed that they brought in an old guy to take minutes away from a young forward they feel is ready to make the jump to the NHL. If he produces, eventually people will be fine with it.
4. Pierre-Luc Dubois
While the first three are considered toxic for their dirty play, Dubois can be considered toxic because of his attitude. He requested a trade just two weeks after signing a new contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets and then forced their hand by playing very lackadaisically. Then, just a little over a year later, he tried to force his way out of his new team, the Winnipeg Jets, after telling the team he wouldn’t sign a long-term deal with the team.
Jake’s thoughts: PLD kind of reminds me of Matt Duchene. He’s a 2C (with the potential to be a Larkin-esque 1C) that wasn’t quite able to find a home for himself until he signed a long-term deal. He’s only 24, and by the time he’s a free agent, he’ll be 25 — ripe for a long-term extension that locks him down through the rest of his prime. If he’s able to stick it out and plays to the best of his abilities, he’d be a great addition to the team.
Riley’s thoughts: This one is tricky because you don’t wanna create any locker room unrest. Also, are you sure you wanna take a risk on a guy who at any moment could try to force his way out? That being said, Dubois is a great player who started to show last season why he was a top-three draft pick. He had a career-high in goals with 28 and started to show he has the potential to be a top-line center or, at worst, a second-line center which Detroit desperately needs. To me, he’s worth the risk.
The cost: Dubois signed a one-year offer sheet with Winnipeg after they were unable to get a trade with Montreal. His cap hit is $6 million and if he stays around the 60-point mark next season, you’d expect a similar AAV heading into his restricted free agency next offseason. He becomes an official UFA in 2024 and it appears he wishes to explore that. 2024 would be just as the Wings are entering their window and if they still have the cap space, could slot in perfectly into the second line.
The reaction: Anyone who knows about Dubois’ attitude problem will be terrified that he’ll want out shortly after signing. Anyone who doesn’t will just be happy the Red Wings added a center.