Wings Will Need Help to Stay Near the Top

The Detroit Red Wings were close, but close is definitely not good enough in Hockeytown. Nothing less than a championship will suffice in Detroit. Well the fans will have to wait another year for another crack at it after losing out to the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final.

Indeed the Wings will be hard pressed to not only get back to the Conference finals, but to come back as the number 1 seed in the West. Thanks to possible defections, salary cap constraints and age of some key players, the task will be difficult for Detroit.

Here is how the Wings look heading into the summer:

Under Contract:

Goal: Chris Osgood
Defence: Niklas Lidstrom, Andres Lilja, Brett Lebda, Niklas Kronvall
Forwards: Pavel Datsyuk, Hendrik Zetterberg, Kris Draper, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Holmstrom, Kirk Maltby, Johan Franzen, Dan Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Tomas Kopecky

Committed Salary: $33 million approximately

Unrestricted Free Agents: Todd Bertuzzi, Robert Lang, Mathieu Schneider, Kyle Calder, Danny Markov, Jiri Fischer, Chris Chelios, Dominik Hasek

Restricted Free Agents: Jiri Hudler

Cap Space: $15-17 million approximately

Top Prospects: Jim Howard, Jakub Kindl, Kyle Quincey, Jon Ericsson, Johan Ryno, Jan Mursek, Igor Grigorenko, Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Dick Axelsson

Goaltending is already a questionmark heading into next season. Will they bring Dom Hasek back or will they decide to look elsewhere for a number 1 goalie or will they in fact look within for their top netminder? This is perhaps their biggest issue they need solved before October. While Hasek played well, he is 43 years old and after a good year likely will not come at the bargain basement price of $750K.

The team could also turn their goaltending responsibilities to top prospect Jim Howard. He has not looked out of place in a handful of NHL games and may be ready for regular employment. He could split time with veteran Chris Osgood. The question is whether Detroit is ready to have a rookie as their number 1.

Another possibility is going after JS Giguere who is the best available goalie on the free agent market. There is a connection here. He did play for coach Mike Bab***** in Anaheim. Therefore if he did not return to Anaheim, a “familiar” place to play would be Detroit for Giguere.

Defence should not be much of an issue especially considering Niklas Lidstrom is on his way to yet another Norris Trophy. Even at his age, he does not appear to be slowing down. There is an issue however concerning depth. 3 key blueliners in Schneider, Chelios and Markov could defect via free agency. It is almost likely that Chelios will return but losing Schneider and Markov could be significant.

The Wings definitely could turn things over to younger blueliners like Niklas Kronvall, Brett Lebda and Kyle Quincey but that may be too much to ask. Kronvall has yet to prove he can stay healthy while the others are more to provide depth if anything. The team definitely will need to look into getting another solid blueliner to support Lidstrom.

Scoring should not be an issue for the Wings. The team locked up Datsyuk, they locked up Holmstrom and along with Zetterberg, Samuelsson, Filppula, Cleary, Hudler and Franzen should get enough goals from the forwards. But you can be sure the Wings will look to replace Robert Lang who likely wont be back and Todd Bertuzzi who also is unlikely to return unless both take significant paycuts.

Bertuzzi gave the Wings a different dimension with his size and physical play that is absent among many of their forwards. This is an area they will more than likely address in the summer. The team is not without grit. Holmstrom and Maltby are two of the most hated players in the NHL and players like Draper, Cleary and Samuelsson hold their own. But Detroit is prone to being pushed around so GM Ken Holland will need to add some muscle up front.

The top end talent of the Wings will keep them near the top of the standings. Adding a top notch goalie will improve their chances even further. Surprisingly fan support has sort of dwindled slightly with some empty seats found even during the playoffs at the Joe Louis Arena. I guess this is what happens when fans accept nothing short of winning as being acceptable.


23 Responses to Wings Will Need Help to Stay Near the Top

  1. tacitus says:

    ur half right and half wrong. The Wings will remain in the top part of the conference battling with San Jose and Nashville, they are still shoe ins for playoff spots. They dominated Calgary and San Jose and actually played better then Anaheim without 2 of their top 3 defence. A team that banged up shouldnt win the cup, its an insult to healthy good teams. Fact is Anaheim is handling Ottawa kinda easily so far, and the Wings played better then Anaheim hence well you get it… The Wings should bring back Hasek for the 1.8 he made this season, maybe even give him a raise to around 2.2-2.5, keep Markov 2.5 and Schneider 3.3 to compliment Kronvall, Lidstrom, Chelios , Lilja. Quincey is still on 2 way contract so give him another year to get better before bringing him or Meech up to replace Chelios or Lilja. As far as forwards go, Zetterberg is still on a 2.5 yearly contract for 2 years and Datsyuk is wrapped up to go along with Franzen, Hudler, Fippula, Draper, Matlby, Holmstrom, Cleary, Samuelsson, and Kopecky.  Bertuzzi and Calder can walk, but atleast offer Lang 2 mil to stay and center a second line, not like the wings can get into a bidding war for UFA centers during the offseason (even Handzus wants 4 mil).

    In the last 4 years any team that beat the wings in the playoffs advanced on to the Cup Finals 2007 Anaheim, 2006 Edmonton, 2004 Calgary, 2003 Anaheim 2002 Detroit wins cup.

    Red Wing fans who didnt sell out the Joe Louis should be ashamed also. If you expect to win without showing up to support ur team then you get what you get. In this NHL where the better team wins half the time you cannot simply expect cup or bust. This was a great season for the Wings and only 2 teams are gonna be able to say they had a better year. Fans can blame Hasek or whomever, but the fact is in the Wings last game, they didnt show up till the 3rd period which they dominated. If they showed up for 2 more periods before that they would probably be in the finals beating ottawa.

    Great Job this season Wings, anybody who calls it a disappointment doesn't really know hockey

  2. Jrugges says:

    Redwings really need to add size, also replace most of the older vets. I don't like the idea of resigning Schinder, or Chelios even though both played great this year it's just that there's too many other, younger, defenders avaliable who might be better suited for the wings. Assuming they don't resign anyone they have around 15 mill in cap, also assuming the caps raised to a modest 50million. I have two plans…

    Ufa signings:
    *Scott Hannan 28yro, 6'1, 225lb, (3.7mill)x4-6yr.
    *Andy Sutton 32yro, 6'6, 245lb, (2.5mill)x1-2yr.
    *Michal Handzus 30yro, 6'5, 217lb, (3.3mill)x2-4yr.
    *Bill Guerin 37yro, 6'2, 220lb, (3mill)x1yr.
    *Niklas Backstorm 29yro, Goalie, (2.4mill+incentives)x4-6yr.
    Wings line-up would look like this then.

    Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
    Samulesson-Handzus-Guerin
    Kopecky-Filappula-Frazen
    Maltby-Drapper-Cleary

    Lidstrom-Quincey(He held his own.)
    Hanna-Lebda(Lebda proved a solid defender and never made bad plays.)
    Sutton-Kronwall(It is Kronwall not VALL NHL.com messed up.)

    Backstorm.
    Osgood.

    This line-up is a MAJOR improvement for a realistic price and a realistic change that could possibly but unlikely take place. Handzus & Guerin bring size, speed, aggression, and mostly a whole new look. Redwings don't have trouble scoring to say, but they mostly relie on the first line to win them games. The second, third, and fourth line players all had similiar stats this season. You can see the points the first line players got, Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Holmstrom/Lidstrom/Schinder, even Lang from PP time. After those big names the points don't make a durastic drop from player to player an line to line. Redwings desperately needed second line scoring and now they'll get it. Guerin show'd he can still score 30+, Handzus has a great two way game and is usually a lock for 20 goals when healthy. Samulesson can well, just do his thing. He hits, He passes, and He shoots… He's really the utility player for the redwings. Also Hannan, plus Sutton provide a very scary defense already anchord by Lidstrom. Hannan still going to get better. Sutton lead his team in block shots with only 55 games played. Backstrom also had an impressive outting which I don't think was any fluke.

  3. Jrugges says:

    Second plan: To plan for not this season, BUT NEXT season. Redwings will almost for a fact be in playoff contention just by the core they do have signed. I really wouldn't mind bring up Howard, Quincey, Lebda, Kopecky, Filuppla, Hudler, and Meech full time. They all have two way contracts all under 1mill. Roughly the wings will add 7mill to their cap of 33mill. A total of 40mill committed. With the cap expected to raise I'll make it a modest 50 mill. They make a big splash by adding Nagy(4.5mill)x4yr and a safe move by signing Hamrlik(3.2mill)x1yr this now leaves the redwings with roughly 2mill under the cap. Gives the organization a chance to see the young talent and weed out busts. This gives the redwings a great look for the next couple of years. Datsyuks, Nagy, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, and Samulesson are signed for atleast the next 2 or more seasons. Also Lidstroms 7.6mill contract is up in 08. It might not be popular with the fans, but I also know Joe Thornton is a UFA in 08 and both players make the same amount of cash. Lock super Joe up for atleast 2-5years. Assuming all this did take place the redwings would easily become once again the most dominate franchise, even surpassing the Pens young talents core. Although, this line-up is much like the Lighting. Two centers at 7 mill. and two wingers(Nagy-Zetterberg) take up 7 mill together, Not to mention the redwings wouldn't have a true shut down defender since both Lidstrom and Hamrlik would be leaving in 08. Thornton might come to detroit for maybe even less, He's always liked the wings, wears 19 b/c of yzerman who works in top management. Nagy a 4.5mill is a stretch as he'll most likely get over 5. Never say never though. Also the few games Howards been in he's not exactly looked outta place considering his age, also Osgood is a strong enough goalie to not neccessarily steal games, but he won't lose them for you. With this plan the wings line up might look like this. For 07-08

    Nagy-Datsyuk-Samulesson
    Cleary-Zetterberg-Holmstrom
    Hudler-Filppula-Kopecky
    Maltby-Drapper-Franzen

    Lidstrom-Quincey
    Meech-Kronwall
    Lebda-Hamrlik

    Howard-Osgood

    Now as you can see they'll compete but by no means be any cup favorites. It's really for the following 2-5 seasons after they'll be favorites.

    Assuming Howard comes out to what he's suppose to be. I feel the redwings should yes let Lidstrom walk, and Let Hamrlik walk too… Why? Simple, Joe Thorntons avaliable and he has drawn some interest to detroit but never spoke about playing there. 7.6mill used for Lidstrom will be used for Super Joe for atleast 3yrs. Also they'll have 3.2mill freed from Hamrlik, an Osgood would be gone. All the key players will be signed for atleast 1 season most likely more being as Zetterberg will most likely stay for a modest raise. This is what the team would look like in 08-09.

    Zetterberg-Thornton-Holmstrom
    Nagy-Datsyuk-Samulesson
    Hudler-Filppula-Kopecky
    Maltby-Drapper-Franzen

    Kronwall-Lebda
    Quincey-(UFA signing)
    Meech-(UFA signing)

    Howard-(UFA signing)

    Now obviously this team is top heavy and will rely on offense more than defense. If Howard turns out to be what some rave about, He shouldn't have a problem and wings goalie wows are over for the next decade. Also Lebda proved he belongs in the league this year as a 4-6th defender, same with Kronwall, and Quincey proved to be the best stay at home defensive defensemen when he was on the team. Meech will also be suitable as the 6th defender with the least amount of ice. Only problem will be trying to sign two other defensemen, or just signing one big name and bringing up another prospect. Names like blake, phenuef, vishnovsky, and redden sound appealing. Wings will be pretty cap committed though with there goalie, and four super stars. What's really not out of the question though is a extreme class act by Lidstrom to play for 2mill for the next two seasons. Most likely wouldn't happen.

        I've got this really funny huntch though that the redwings will try very hard to get Joe Thornton. Especailly since Zetterberg's a class act and signs for less than he's worth. Problem is it seems if Joe's in, then Niklas is out. Leaving the team without a shutdown defender. Also the team will soon need to address the goalie situation with Howard or someone else. I could deffinately see the redwings tying up around 25-30mill with only four players. Thorton, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Starting goalie, Shut down defender. This is really a good plan an has often worked "Tampa bay", problem being is the success of the team rides heavily on how skilled the goaltender really is.

  4. habsoverserver says:

    I don't live in Detroit but i have to figure that with playoff ticket prices starting at $90 and with a very tough local economy, the Wings priced themselves out of the market.  The fans might have attended more games if the organization priced the tickets more reasonably. 

  5. TieDomi511 says:

    I live in Michigan about 30 minutes from the Joe and I hate the wings. But I will tell you that the reason the Joe is not sold out is NOT because fans don't like the fans or support them. Michigan has the worst economy out of any state in the US. No one can afford to go to Wings games because they have refused to change prices accordingly.

    The Pistons, Lions, and Tigers all have lowered their prices to keep fans coming to their games despite the big hit the economy has taken, but for whatever reason the Red Wings haven't followed suit.

  6. krk181 says:

    First of all they will not keep markov and schneider they wont ba able to afford it. Next robert lang is useless in the new nhl he is slow most of the time lazy and takes bad penaltys because of that let him go.  Todd Bertuzzi wants to stay and i hope he does he admitted to come back to soon off of his surgery and secound of all he played game 5 and 6 against the ducks with a cracked tailbone hes a monster on the ice and is exactly what detroit needs.  As far as not selling out the joe is because people are loseing jobs left and right here and ticket prices were very high $77 was the cheapest ticket price in the first round and went up to i think $120 just to sit in the last row of the jla, sorry but people can afford it when they are so worried about how they are going to feed their families if they wake up tomorrow and get laid off.  The fans arnet blameing anybody for the lose the wings played great and if anyone even thinks about blameing hasek should go back and wacth every playoff game again he played just like he did in 2002.  As far as the wings playoff run goes its was great some bad calls cost them, i hope they are back on top next year just so i can listen to the so called experts (mainly from espn) put them down so detroit can prove them wrong once again.

  7. secks says:

    offer lang 2 million? lol .. i can't believe i just read that .. i don't think holland would offer him the league minimum .. he's a lazy fk .. i remember watching a pregame show once and lang was talking to mclellan about positioning on the power play .. and lang kept insisting that if he just stood there and waiting for the puck, he would become open .. what a joke

  8. wingsfan13 says:

    actually i agree, except for the fact none of the other teams lowered ther prices either and u suck for hating the wings.

  9. wingsfan13 says:

    lol u read my mind, lang is a bum

  10. wingsfan13 says:

    i feel if the wings had schneider they would've been holding the cup in their hands.  the powerplay kinda suffered (though our numbers turned out pretty good).  we didn't take advantage of the five-on-threes and we didn't take enough offensive aggression (our defense left back way too soon too many times and we couldn't keep the zone to sustain pressure).  the series was over when the refs gave the game to anaheim on the datsyuk call in the last 2 minutes of game 4 and deflected off lidstrom's stick.  nothing u can do.  we just didn't bury our chances.  that last minute gtg deflated us totally.  i'm suprised though we still played quite well.  chelios was for once amazing.  lilja was doing good until that goal.  hasek was stellar. though i think datysuk wasn't enough of a presence despite his numbers.  zetterberg was obviously still hurt.  cleary was sweet.
    although chelios and hasek were great for us in the playoffs i don't think we should bring them back cuz we need to let the young guys go at it and face it they aren't getting any younger.  i'm sick of holland signing all these old players because they have veteran experience while holding up the youth movement line.  plus it kinda cuts the chemistry, cohesiveness, and leadership of the team.  stop being scared of inexperience kenny, look what faith in yzerman at 19 did for us.
    we need schneider back though he is injury prone and older because you can tell he makes a difference in our offense and power play.  markov was good too although he's goofy.  though i wish we could fill their spots with our players.
    frankly though we still need a guy who is tough and sticks up for everyone and not afraid to hit or fight and a scorer (maybe even superstar) that we can count on night in and out to score a goal.  everyone on our team is just too streaky and sry but pavel and hank just arent it.  we have excellent scoring depth though.  maltby and draper are useless though and it was stupid to resign at least maltby for a couple years.  all they do is penalty kill.  that is it.  other than that were not to bad off

  11. revolution77 says:

    and you suck for thinking that everybody must have the same opinion.

  12. revolution77 says:

    about the whole nothing less than winning being acceptable comment…. are you suggesting that detroit had a losing season? were you even watching hockey at all this year? if you were to ask a handfull of wings fans the majority of them would tell you that they are completely satisfied with this season. i know i am, i know that most people that i know that watch the wings on a regular basis that i know agree with me. i also know that this was one of my favorite detroit teams ever. hate to break it to all you detroit haters but the fans have not abandoned this team, the fans just dont fully consist of people who can afford to go to games right now. i got standing room tickets to game 2 of the western confrence finals and they cost over $100 a peice. not everybody in this world can afford to pay that much money to attend a game that is brodcast on tv.

  13. krk181 says:

    i think they kept ticket prices high because theres rumors going around about detroit building a new arena after the 2008 season

  14. krk181 says:

    maltby and draper are useless though and it was stupid to resign at least maltby for a couple years.  all they do is penalty kill.  that is it.  other than that were not to bad off

    im not trying to bash you or anything but penalty killing is a big part of the new nhl because of all the bad penalties being called and to have the 2 best penalty killers in the league on your team is very stupid

  15. wingsfan13 says:

    yeah but why not get players who can do things besides only penalty kill.  maltby had like 3 goals this year? give me a break.

  16. CaptainAvery says:

    Forget Souray Gainey go for the veteran Mathieu Schneider. A strong puck moving powerplay quarterback at 2-3 years 4.5 mill. Good deal for Schneider and a good replacement for Souray. Anyone that posts negative knows exactly where to go!

  17. tacitus says:

    if the cap stayed at 44 mil they could keep schneider at 3.3 and Markov at 2.5, if the cap goes up to 48 mill they can definitly keep both. If you wish i can grab salary numbers from nhlnumbers. And everybody knocking Lang. Mark my words, he gets 2 mil atleast when hes UFA especially if handzus gets the 4 he wants. If anybody has watched UFA over the past 2 years then you would realize a players worth and what he gets are very different numbers. Kubina worth 2 mil tops gets a crazy contract. plus to mil is not alot for a second line player who gets 50-60 pts, u all act like 2 mil is some crazy number.

  18. tacitus says:

    here i did some fact checking to show the fact the wings can afford Markov and Schneider

    Datsyuk 6.700
    Zetterberg 2.65
    Draper 2.128
    Holmstrom 2.250
    Maltby 0.833
    Samuelsson 1.200
    Franzen  0.942
    Cleary 0.663
    Filpula .733
    Kopecky 0.700
    Hudler RFA

    Lidstrom 7.600
    Lilja  1.000
    Kronwall 3.000
    Lebda 0.650
    Quincey 0.520

    Osgood 0.850

    So thats 10 forwards 5 defence and a goalie signed for a cap hit of 32.419
    Which meanc Chelios can be signed for the same 1.150, then you can offer Markov a raise and give him 3 give schneider a raise and offer him 3.7 offer hasek a raise up to 2.7, quality Hudler for 1.0 and you have 11 forwards 8 d and 2 goalies signed, at 43.969 which is under last seasons cap. So whatever it goes up to is what you offer the other 2 forwards. So once again it goes to show ya if you actually read what teams payrolls are and do some reasearch that half the people here have no clue what they are talking about.

    And Lang at 2 mil would make him 9th highest paid guy on the team, i dunno, that seems fair to me cuz ur not gonna get better for 2 mil

  19. tacitus says:

    thank god you dont run the redwings, they were 2 injured defencemen away from the cup finals and you turn a great defence corps into a buncha kids.

    Lidstrom Schneider
    Kronwall Markov
    Lebda Chelios
    Lilja

    keep that core atleat till quincey and meech are not on 2 way deals. I never saw the point of blowing up a team that finishes 1st in the conference then goes to the final 4 of the playoffs. And its not like Anaheim out played them to beat them, Wings consistantly out played Anaheim but were ousted. Btw according to nhlnumbers.com lebda and kopecky are on 1 way deals. Id keep everybody but Calder and Bertuzzi unless Bertuzzi signs for 3 mil tops. Even still the fans couldnt support their team in the playoffs i wouldnt be rewarding them for that.

  20. tacitus says:

    im still loyal to maltby and draper. especially Maltby for 833k per year

  21. krk181 says:

    why because those players you get dont mean anything when they score 1 or 2 goals and your penalty killing unit gives up 3 or 4 goals

  22. krk181 says:

    im not saying anything about how much he makes im saying that in the new nhl he sucks hes not fit for the new nhl is what i am saying they can use the money lang got and spend it on someone else that can produce those numbers and whos not lazy and dosent take bad penalties because they cant skate

  23. tacitus says:

    ur right, you know more then Ken Holland, Jim Nill and Scotty Bowman

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