The NHL Free Agency period starts today, meaning all free agents in the league will be able to make deals with teams.
The Red Wings are not expected to be making any big trades, and they're not exactly what one might consider a top free agent destination, or ... are they? With new GM Steve Yzerman, a budding group of young forwards and a list of prospects and draft picks to come, the Red Wings sure look more like a team on the rise than a team suffering through a rebuild.
It's true they still have aging contracts for players who probably won't be playing in the NHL much longer, but there is a clear path that trends upward for this team over the next two to three seasons. Yzerman could choose to acquire more talent through free agency in his first summer as Red Wings GM in an effort to speed this process up even more.
The question is, if he does make some signings, is he looking to add veteran depth for short-term impact, or a younger talent who he'll have to pay long-term? Would Yzerman consider signing one of the top free agent defensemen, perhaps Anton Stralman (TBL) or Jake Gardiner (TOR)? The team also needs a younger goalie option at some point -- someone who might actually still be here in, say, three years.
Whatever happens, at least we know there is some opportunity to start making this team more attractive to free agents. Just having Yzerman in office is a great start. Even though Ken Holland gets criticized for some of the bad contracts he created for this team, you must admit he put Yzerman in the best situation possible, given the circumstances of the past five seasons for Detroit.
There are valuable players on the roster and in the system, and there is still time for this team to find an identity before any of the contracts weighing it down can become an even bigger problem. Basically, there is reason for optimism and free agency can't ruin that.
Tweet of the week
ESPN's Dimitri Filipovic (also of the Hockey PDOCast) could not resist a little jab at the Red Wings' old, bad contracts problem:
"The Red Wings are clearing ~$43M in financial commitments off their books over the next 3 summers and it’s all on players that will either never play in the NHL again or never get another meaningful NHL contract.. and Justin Abdelkader will still have one more year on his deal!"
Ah yes, the Abdelkader contract bit. Well, this situation stinks for Detroit, obviously. If he can't find a way to be valuable on this roster, then that's a big problem for the organization. Yzerman may have to get more creative to address this one.
In case you missed it
Ex-Red Wings Nedomansky, Rutherford inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame
Two players from the "Dead Wings" era have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and it's not for what they did while playing for the Red Wings. Read about their careers and why they got into the hall here.
Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the author of this newsletter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.