Offseason Roundup: Detroit Red Wings
Over the next month, theScore's NHL editors will review all the offseason moves for each team around the league.
It's difficult to fault the Detroit Red Wings for their lack of urgency. Even though they slipped into the playoffs as a wild card team, taking full advantage of their move to the weaker Eastern Conference last season, the Red Wings elected to stay the course in the offseason - a luxury they can afford after 23 straight seasons of playoff berths.
Detroit was rumored to be very interested in landing a marquee free agent defenseman like Matt Niskanen or Dan Boyle, but when the dust settled on July 1, Niskanen was a member of the Washington Capitals and Boyle chose the New York Rangers. Instead of searching for a lesser solution, the Red Wings focused on the talent they already had.
The biggest offseason move by Detroit was the extension of Ken Holland's contract through 2018, putting him on track to reach 20 seasons as the team's general manager.
In terms of personnel, 23-year-old Tomas Tatar was rewarded for a 19-goal, 39-point season with a three-year, $8.25-million deal, while veteran Daniel Cleary re-signed for $1.5-million and backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson earned a small raise with a $1.85-million contract.
Twenty-nine-year-old defenseman Kyle Quincey was the fall-back option when Detroit whiffed on big-name defenders in free agency. He re-signed for two years at $4.25 million. Restricted free agent blue-liner Danny DeKeyser is still without a contract, but remains in talks with the team.
The Red Wings will be younger next season after parting ways with veterans like Todd Bertuzzi, David Legwand and Mikael Samuelsson. Aging (but miraculously still productive) winger Daniel Alfredsson has yet to decide whether he will continue his NHL career. While Detroit isn't quite rebuilding (just ask former Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood), the youth movement appears to be in full effect with Tatar and Gustav Nyquist as shoo-ins for regular roster spots this upcoming season.
- Daniel Alfredsson?
- Todd Bertuzzi
- David Legwand
- Mikael Samuelsson
A lack of free agent signings means any improvements for Detroit in the coming year will come from within the organization. Players like Tatar, Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco should take another step forward in their development with full-time NHL roles, if they get them, while last year's big free agent catch Stephen Weiss is a prime candidate to rebound from a forgettable, injury-plagued season.
The biggest questions for the Red Wings are on the blue line and in the crease. Detroit has been thin on top-line defensive talent since the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and that looks like it will continue after the failed pursuit of Niskanen and Boyle (among others). Jimmy Howard posted a pedestrian .910 save percentage in 2013-14 and any further regression on his part could put the Red Wings' playoff streak in jeopardy.
Detroit isn't likely to finish ahead of the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division, but if stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg stay healthy, the Red Wings look like an Eastern Conference playoff team. At least on paper.