DETROIT – If 41-year-old Daniel Alfredsson doesn't decide to retire, should the Detroit Red Wings bring him back for another year?
Alfredsson signed a 1-year, $5.5 million contract with Detroit last offseason. He appeared in 68 games with the Red Wings, scoring 18 goals and 31 assists.
Most of those points came in the first 1/2 of the season before injuries started to keep him out of the lineup, and due to injury he appeared in just three of a possible five playoff games against the Boston Bruins. While he was clearly nursing an ailment, Alfredsson didn't register any points in the postseason and finished with a -1 rating over three games.
That's not very Alfredsson-like. He delivered 10 points in 10 playoff games just a season before with the Ottawa Senators. The young Red Wings could have used a healthy, effective veteran forward in the playoffs. If he isn't going to be able to stay healthy, can the Red Wings afford having him in the lineup?
If he is healthy, he's shown he is still good enough to play against most of the NHL's top lines. He brings solid two-way play and has a smart hockey sense around the net. He enjoyed being the setup man for Detroit's budding offensive talents. His 31 assists put him at 3rd overall on the Red Wings behind Niklas Kronwall (41 assists) and Henrik Zetterberg (32) and he was tied with Kronwall for overall points -- 49.
Age didn't appear to be much of a factor in Alfredsson's game this year until the injuries creeped up on him. Of course, he's not the same guy who put up 103 points in 77 games with Ottawa in 2005-06, but his role is different now, too. Looking back, there were a lot of games this season in which its easy to argue Alfredsson was the best forward in the Red Wings' lineup. They turned to him for timely goals and helpers, and he delivered. If he were 100 percent healthy in that Boston series, maybe the series lasts longer than 5 games.
Alfredsson is one of seven unrestricted free agents who the Red Wings have to decide their future with -- the others are Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, David Legwand, Mikael Samuelsson, defenseman Kyle Quincey and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. Of that list, Alfredsson probably has the best chance of returning for another year in a Winged Wheel sweater (Still waiting to see if Gustavsson goes and Petr Mrazek backs up Jimmy Howard).
If Alfredsson comes back, maybe it won't be for $5.5 million. However, it's difficult to argue he hasn't earned it. He managed to score 49 points on a team that had just five players score more than 40 points.
I say keep him if he wants to be here -- he hasn't showed interest in another team, and he has moved his family here. The Red Wings will have space to work with up front -- both monetarily and in the lineup. He plays well with the other Detroit veterans such as Zetterberg, Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk and he brings world-class experience to a team that likely will be even younger than it was this past season.
Moreover, I don't see much else out there in the UFA market. Forwards Paul Stastny, Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri all are on that list. I'm intrigued by 28-year-old Stastny, but I'd probably move to keep Alfredsson before signing any of those other veterans.
Plus, I'd expect the Red Wings to go after a defenseman in free agency.
What would you do?