Free Agency D-Day: What to expect
When the clock strikes noon on July 1, NHL GMs will be free to sign unrestricted free agents to contracts. Several contracts might actually be reasonable.
Free Agent Friday is finally here, a day which brings both hope and dread to Red Wings fans (but more dread.) Will Ken Holland use his cap space wisely or make it rain on players who won't make it to the end of their new contracts? Here's what to expect.
How to Watch
GMs can start sending the dump trucks full of cash at Noon ET, which is when NHL Network will start broadcasting TSN's Free Agent Frenzy.
If you can't watch, you can follow online using the SB Nation free agent tracker. Even without TV, you can keep up to date on all the signings league-wide, helpful if you want to be the first in your Twitter feed to second-guess each signing.
Of course, we will bring you comprehensive coverage of any moves the Wings make.
What to know heading in
While you should always take rumors with a shaker of salt around this time of year, the last day has seen some smoke in interesting areas. It remains to be seen if there is fire, but here are some rumors out there.
Lucic a no?
Milan Lucic is said to be considering two teams, with heavy chatter linking him with Edmonton for something ridiculous like $6.5 million for 7 years. No thanks.
Hearing that Milan Lucic has narrowed his choices to two teams. Decision time Friday when market opens. — Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 30, 2016
Nielsen a yes?
Several national hockey writers linked the Wings with center Frans Nielsen today
McKenzie on #RedWings: "Which direction do they go now? Frans Nielsen is one of a number of forwards. Andrew Ladd might be another one." — Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 30, 2016
Helm a maybe?
Red Wings still in talks with Darren Helm. If deal can't get done, he's UFA tomorrow. — Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 30, 2016
In addition to free agent destination rumblings, speculation has been swirling about potential trades. Defenseman Tyson Barrie was rumored to be available, as well as fellow blueliners Jacob Trouba and Cam Fowler. Enticingly, Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog's name was also mentioned today.
What to expect?
The Red Wings have two major needs going into the free agency period. They need a top-line center, as well as a top-pair defenseman. The problem, well, the biggest problem, is that those players are not available in the free agent market. None of the free agent defenseman are legitimate top pairing players, and none of the free agent centers are legitimate top-line centers. So, other than that, Detroit is in a great position.
There are, however, good outcomes. A player like Jacob Trouba seems to be available, and Nashville could potentially be persuaded to part ways with one of their young blueliners. The cost is likely going to be very high, but it seems to be the only way to fill a real need. Kevin Shattenkirk is still available, but St. Louis is said to be asking for a very large return, and he's an UFA after next season.
The number one center role seems tougher to fill, and chances don't appear to be high for that happening tomorrow. The most likely center signing is Nielsen, and he should be playing second line minutes, not first.
If the Wings do sign a winger or two tomorrow, it could be the precursor to one or more trades to address the above needs. Or, it could just be Holland spending money. For Detroit fans, this was likely the scariest tweet of June 30:
McKenzie: "I'll be watching the Detroit #RedWings on Friday. I mean, they've got a lot of money burning a hole in their pocket." — Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 30, 2016