Helene St. James: Red Wings down but not out of options


Though the Wings would have given that to Suter had it come down to that, they weren’t going anywhere near a $7.5-million average salary cap hit for a small winger like Parise, who last season had 69 points. If they’re going to take on that kind of contract for a forward, it’ll be by trading for Columbus’ Rick Nash, a 6-foot-4 behemoth who’d be a 40-goal scorer next to Pavel Datsyuk.

That possibility will be explored, but for now, the Wings wake up with nearly $17 million in salary cap space and will look at Plans B for the defense. There aren’t any elite options left. Carlo Colaiacovo has a good offensive upside, but he has been injury-prone. Chris Campoli is another possibility. The Wings weren’t remotely interested in paying Matt Carle the $5.5-million average he got for six years from Tampa Bay Wednesday night.

A likelier course of action is trading. Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester, 28, is a great skater, capable of eating up 25 minutes a game, and he could rediscover his offensive skills playing in Detroit’s system.

General manager Ken Holland said he “was down” about Suter’s decision, which was announced around noon. But by the afternoon, Holland already was putting things in perspective.

“Our focus going back to last year was to be positioned for this summer,” he said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to add a high-profile player or two. But I think we have a lot of good pieces in place, and we have some players ready to take bigger roles. We’ll explore the marketplace. We’ll explore trading. We’ll move on.”