Wings off-season and looking forward to pre-season

Let us start this by seeing who the Wings lost from their cup winning team and who they gained.

Losses: Wings have lost Dominik Hasek and Dallas Drake to retirement (nice to see Drake go out with his name on the cup). The Wings have 2 way offers on the table for both Darren McCarty and Aaron Downey but they have yet to accept them. Mark Hartigan likely won’t be back but he played mostly in the AHL and was quickly blown out of the lineup during the playoffs by the play of young Darren Helm who quickly showed fans why he is compared to a young Kris Draper.

Additions: They re-signed Brad Stuart and will have him for a full season being paired with Niklas Kronwall. These two showed incredible chemistry during the playoffs and were a big part of keeping the opponents secondary scoring in check along with keeping their heads up during the cup run. Next the Wings added Ty Conklin to push Jimmy Howard for the backup job. With Howard not having to clear waivers next season to be sent down, it would take one hell of a great training camp for him not to start in Grand Rapids since the Wings would be at risk of losing Conklin on waivers. I wasn’t too thrilled when i first heard this since personally i wanted Kolzig instead but Conklin played surprisingly well with the Penguins when Fleury was injured. With how well the Detroit defense plays, the goalies don’t have to steal games, they just have to make the saves they should make along with maybe a couple of tough ones. The big surprise addition (at least for me it was) this summer was Marian Hossa. The talented player had his agent call Holland to get a one year deal done for less money than he got offered elsewhere after being told nobody will make more than Lidstrom in Detroit unless Lidstrom approves it.

RFA’s still unsigned: Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard, Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson

Filppula already has a 2 year offer on the table from the Wings but both sides want to hammer out a long term contract before his arbitration hearing next month. Filppula will not get to abitration as the Wings very rarely have gotten to that point with any player. Howard and Quincey should not be expensive or difficult to sign and will get done. Jonathan Ericsson is a little different as Holland has already made him an offer which he has yet to sign. The 6’5, 220lbs, #1 prospect, Ericsson has Wings fans excited about his potential when you consider the size and skilled combined in this kid. Drafted in 2002, 10th round ( 291st overall ), with the last pick of the entire draft. He is already the lowest draft pick to play an NHL game when he played 8 games last season when the Wings had a rash of injuries on the blue line. At the time the Wings drafted him, Ericsson had only been a defenseman for a small part of a season at the 3rd level of a Swedish league because of injuries to defensemen on the team. Last year with Grand Rapids he was an AHL All Star defenseman and recorded 100.1 MPH slap shot in the skills competition. Rumor has it (from a Swedish news paper) that Ericsson was offered a 3 year deal by the Wings and that he is going to accept it but his agent could push for a one year deal that (unless he played a full season with the Wings) would make him a UFA for next summer. A two year deal would make him an RFA at the end of the contract while a 3 year deal would make him a UFA at the end of the contract. I expect him to be a Wings for a long time. According to the Wings have about 4 million of cap space with 20 players signed.

Goalie depth: Wings were deep last season at every position and should be even deeper this season. The only position the Wings might have lost some depth is in goal, Osgood will be the number 1 while either Conklin or Howard will back him up. Both Conklin and Howard are capable of handling the backup job but should Osgood get injured in the playoffs, neither of them would inspire as much confidence as having a proven vet come in like they had in Hasek/Osgood tandem last year…hence why i would have been happier with signing a guy like Kolzig over Conklin. The good thing for the Wings about a Osgood/Conklin tandem is the low cost of it ( 2.167 million for both ) while having a 3 time Stanley cup winner in Osgood and Conklin who has been a backup on two teams that went to the finals. Conklin has also played in both outdoor games so far and as most of you already know the Wings and Blackhawks are set to play at Wrigley Field, Chicago, for this years Winter Classic. Which ever team wants to be part of the next Winter Classic might want to consider signing Ty Conklin after this season since this event seems to be following him around the NHL. Wings will also have their 4th choice (92nd overall) in the 2006 draft, Swedish Elite League top rookie of the year and top goalie for 07-08 Daniel Larsson coming over to North America but he will be in Grand Rapids to get use to the angles and play of the game over here.

Forward depth: Up front, Hossa adds another good two way forward to a team already featuring arguably two of the best in the league in that department in Datsyuk and Zetterberg. My guess is Hossa will play with Filppula and Franzen on the Wings 2nd line unless Bab***** decides to split Datsyuk and Zetterberg. I don’t expect to see a Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Hossa line much (even on the powerplay) since that would leave two guys that excel at being a front of the net presence in Holmstrom and Franzen on the 2nd line and you don’t really want two guys trying to do that job on the same line. Scoring should not be a problem with this group of forwards.

Defense depth: On defense the Wings are deep too with a top 4 of Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall and Stuart. After the top 4 is where it will get very interesting going into training camp. Chelios will be back but will be used in a lesser role than he had in previous years…he will be used as the 7th or 8th defenseman for the Wings as insurance for injuries and to continue to mentor the young up and coming blue liners the Wings have. Lebda, Lilja, Meech, Quincey and Ericsson will be fighting for 3 spots on the roster and playing time in the 5th and 6th slot of the Wings blue line. Ericsson doesn’t have to clear waivers to be sent down so even if he has a great camp again like he did last year, the Wings would likely want him to play a major role in the minors instead of getting a small amount of ice time with the Wings. That leaves Lebda, Lilja, Meech and Quincey battling for 3 roster spots with at least one of them get traded or waived before the start of the season. Bab***** truly loves Ericsson so i won’t totally discount him from making the team (making 2 defensemen expendable) with the type of comment Bab***** said about him during the playoffs: “We have a kid named Ericsson, and I can’t believe we don’t dress him. I think he’s going to be a stud in the league.” — Red Wings head coach Mike Bab***** (May 2008, USA Today). Needless to say it will be interesting to keep an eye on this situation during training camp and pre-season.

The Wings roster should look something like this to start the season:

Franzen- Filppula – Hossa
Samuelsson – Draper – Cleary
Maltby – Hudler – Kopecky

Lidstrom – Rafalski
Kronwall – Stuart
Lebda – Lilja


Extras: Chelios, Meech, Downey or McCarty

This roster obviously is not set in stone as youngsters could impress the Wings management enough in training camp and pre-season for them to consider trading a player or players to make room for them. Darren Helm, Ville Leino, Cory Emmerton, Justin Abdelkader, Mattias Ritola, Evan McGrath, Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl are all youngsters who could make management’s decision to send them down to the AHL a hard one but since t
hey don’t have to clear waivers, they will have to really show something great before the season starts to bump someone off the roster.

Look for Holland to lock up Zetterberg and Franzen to long term contracts during the season and try and get them at less than market value (buying into the team concept as they call it) to try and give Holland the possibility of keeping Hossa long term. Holland has already stated he wants to try and get this done if he can. People should not be so quick to think Hossa is just in Detroit for one year because if there is one team that could pull it off, it certainly is the Wings. Very few players that play a full season in Detroit choose to leave since the players are very well treated…private jet, time off if needed for family (see Brad Stuart being allowed to go to San Jose to be with his wife for the birth of his child during the playoffs), great locker room chemistry and a chance at the cup every year…those things can sway a players decision to stay for less than market value if the player really likes how he fits in.

Team goal for the 08 – 09 season: Easy…be the first team to win back to back cup since they did it in 97 – 98. As usual it is Stanley Cup or bust for the Wings.

The only sites i used for this article were and The site is the best site for RedWings prospects i have seen (much better than hockeysfuture when it comes to the Wings) and they give updates every week during the season on how all the Wings prospects are doing in North America and Europe. They also have Wings management, coaching and scouting comments on all their prospects along with having all the local media articles and some opponents media articles that talk about the Wings…just a great site and every NHL team should have a site like this.

Sorry for the long article but i just kept adding stuff as i went although i could have made it longer if i would have went into stats. I hope it wasn’t too painfull to read.

6 Responses to Wings off-season and looking forward to pre-season

  1. pezzz says:

    not it wasn't painfull to read, it was great. good article, well written, good info.

    I see Helm making the team though. as the 4th line center, with Hudler at left and Maltby on the right. I think that if Kopecky isn't making the strongest training camp of his career, he'll be waived. Leino will play a full year in GR to adjust to North American play, but in the long term he'll be a great player.

    Man this team is sick. Samuelsson and Cleary would play on the 2nd line on many teams, and they're on the 3rd. Hudler also is a no-brainer 2nd liner, even 1rst liner on weaker teams, but he's playing on the 4th. that's amazing. he had 42 points last year playing on the bottom lines. that's incredible.

    again, great article, keep up the good work.

    oh, and I don't think that even if Zetterberg and Franzen take less money, they will be able to resign Hossa. They will have about 20 millions to resign Zetterberg, Franzen, Samuelsson and Hudler, and that's without Filpula contract. I guess Filpula will get about 3.5, Zett 7, Franzen 3.5 and Hudler around 2.5. Samuelsson will probably walk. That's leaving 3.5 to resign Hossa. I really don't think this will happen. Maybe if they trade away Cleary and trade Hudler for picks, but then they lose a lot of depth. So I'm not sure.

  2. dcz28 says:

    Thanks for the nice comments…the only reason i didn't put Helm in the lineup is because he doesn't have to clear waivers to be sent down but he showed he could be a regular already. Bab***** loves Kopecky and he was playing very well before his season ending injury and looked a lot like a young Dallas Drake (with more offensive upside). You also have to keep in mind that Kopecky was a factor in Hossa signing in Detroit since they are friends and work out together in the off-season. Hossa talked to him a lot before he made his decision to sign with the Wings. Wings need that grit in the lineup and with them carrying 8 defensemen for next season that only leaves one spot for a forward which to me should go to either McCarty or Downey to answer for cheap shots to the stars.

    The main reason Hudler played on the 4th line last season was because of his defensive play. He is getting better but will have to get much better for Bab***** to use him more since they have plenty of other offensive weapons that can play well at both ends of the ice. Hudler does play on the 2nd PP unit as the QB on the half boards which he does well…that does give him a bit more ice time than most 4th line players around the league.

    As for keeping Hossa, i did some quick calculations and i think it is possible depending on how much the cap rises for the 09 – 10 season. IMO Filppula will get less than 2 million per year on a short term deal or around 2.5 on a longer term deal (similar to the long term deal Zetterberg is finishing now). Zetterberg should be around 7 million per season on his new deal. Franzen i see at about 3 million per season since he has yet to prove he can be a real scorer for a full season (most of his goals came in March until the end of the season). I can't see Hudler making over 2 million on his next contract…1.5 to 2 million is about what i expect him to sign for. Samuelsson will be gone after this season and i expect Lilja to be gone too. That's 2.4 million off the books that can be replaced by cheap youngsters like Helm, Abdelkader, Emmerton, Ericsson, Dick Axelsson  ect…if the cap goes up by 4 million for the 09 – 10 season i feel it is possible to keep the core with Hossa.

    I'll see if i can get it to all fit with what i think players will get in another post.

  3. dcz28 says:

    A look at what the Wings roster could look like in the 09 – 10 season (salaries are cap hits):

    Zetterberg – 7 million
    Hossa   –  7 million
    Datsyuk – 6.7 million
    Franzen – 3 million
    Cleary – 2.8 million
    Filppula – 2.5 million (could be lower or higher depending on the length)
    Holmstrom – 2.25 million
    Draper  –  1.583 million
    Hudler  –  1.5 million
    Kopecky – 900K
    Maltby – 883K
    Helm – 550K

    12 forwards for a total of 36.666 million

    Lidstrom  –  7 million
    Rafalski  –  6 million
    Stuart   –    3.75 million
    Kronwall  –  3 million
    Ericsson  –  900K (signed for 3 years today according to nhlnumbers)
    Lebda   –  650K
    Meech   –   570K

    7 defensemen signed for a total of 21.87 million

    Osgood  –  1.417
    Howard   –  900K

    2 goalies for 2.317 million

    Total team salary cap hit for the 09 – 10 season = 60.853 million for 21 players.

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  5. pezzz says:

    That's assuming the cap will go up by at least 6 millions. I think it will, but still it's a little premature.

    For Zetterberg and Hossa, if they resign, it will be for this year's Hossa money. 7.4 for both.

    Filppula will absolutly have more than 2.5. If he has another good year at the center of 2nd line, look for 3.5. at least. if he reaches 25 goals and 50 points, he'll cash in. Don't forget that Filppula was contemplating signing offer sheets before going to arbitration. So if he hasn't the money he wants, he'll leave. He's no Datsyuk or Stuart for taking hometown pay cuts.
    Hudler, if he puts up 45 points again, will make more around 2 than 1.5

    For Franzén, it depends on a lot of things. If they lock him long term right now, he will cost a lot of money. around 3.5. If they wait until the end of the season, it may cost them even more money, if he hits 30 goals. 4, or 4.5. But if they wait until the end of the season and he busts, then I don't think they'll throw 2.5 or 3 to a streaky player. I think they'll let him go, give his spot to either Cleary (same type of player) or give a chance to Hudler, and keep his cap space to resign Hossa long term.

    And I can't wait to see Ericsson in the Wings uniform. Bowman compared him to Larry Robinson. man. this is huge.

  6. dcz28 says:

    You might be right on Zetterberg and Hossa but i think you are wrong on Filppula. Wings have to sign him now so he doesn't have another year to prove he deserves more money. He won't sign for less than a 2 year deal so he will be under contract for the 09 – 10 season. He wasn't contemplating offer sheets since he didn't get any and he was the one who file for arbitration (not the Wings) which eliminates the chances of any offer sheets being sent to him. I can't find the quote from Filppula but he basically said he is happy in Detroit and can't see himself playing anywhere else…so yes i think he would take a hometown discount to stay with the Wings.

    Hudler isn't a good two way player yet and he will need to show he can be to get off the 3rd and 4th line role…Wings are not going to give him 2 million a year to play on the 4th line as they have plenty of top 9 players that can play both ends of the ice right now. If Hossa fits in really well and Hudler doesn't improve his defensive game enough next season i think the Wings would trade Hudler if it means keeping Hossa long term.

    For Franzen i compare him to Cleary and Holmstrom which both are making under 3 million per season. Holmstrom signed after a 29 and 30 goal seasons and had 20 last season but missed plenty of games with injuries. Franzen has never hit 30 goals and last season was the first time in 3 years he scored more than 12 goals in a season with 27 goals. More than half of his goals came at the end of the season. Wings are going to keep him since he's the closest thing they have to a power forward.

    I agree on Ericsson…i have watched this kid in pre-season for the last few years and been very impressed by him. I think he will start the season in the minors since he doesn't have to clear waivers and the Wings have too many defensemen. He could outplay some of the others and force Holland to make some trades to fit him in this year but at this point he is probably slotted for the AHL…you have to keep in mind that this big kid has only been playing defense full time since the year he was drafted…he was a forawrd all of his career before that point.

    Wings camp should be interesting to say the least and i can't wait for it to start.

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