The Red Wings extended qualifying offers to four of their restricted free agents, meaning they will retain their rights. Other teams are able to sign them to offer sheets, which Detroit then has the option of matching.
The four players who were qualified are forwards Francis Pare and Dick Axelsson, defenseman Logan Pyett and goaltender Jordan Pearce.
Forward Jordan Owens was not qualified, and therefore he has become an unrestricted free agent. Owens was acquired from the New York Rangers on March 3, 2010 for fellow AHLer Kris Newbury. Owens had 25 points in 77 games for Grand Rapids over the last year and change. He provided a physical presence for the Griffins, but will likely be moving on to another organization as the Wings have an influx of young forwards joining the Griffins next year, including Landon Ferraro, Andrej Nestrasil, Mitchell Callahan, as well as potentially Trevor Parkes and Louis-Marc Aubry.
Brent Raedeke will likely take over some of Owens responsibilities and get more minutes than he did this year with the Griffins, and Gustav Nyquist will be with the Griffins full time after turning pro late in the season last year, following the completion of his junior season with the Maine Black Bears. It came down to a numbers game, and Owens was the odd man out.
Logan Pyett signed a one year extension late tonight with the Wings, and will play his fourth season with the Griffins. He must clear waivers at the beginning of the year before reporting to Grand Rapids, but there isn’t any reason to think he wouldn’t.
He had a down year, and is likely on his last contract with the Wings if he can’t make a big improvement this year. The Wings will be looking for him to put up career high numbers as he is an undersized offensive defenseman in the mold of Brian Rafalski who has yet to total more than 30 points in any AHL season. A strong campaign could put him on the short list for an NHL call up if the Wings hit injury problems. A tough year will likely spell the end of his time in the Wings organization.
One final note on the Wings defense: provided they don’t add another defenseman through free agency or a trade, they have a decision to make on Brendan Smith and Doug Janik. Due to Janik not being waiver exempt, they have to decide which one they want to keep as the full-time seventh defenseman next year.
Janik would have to go on re-entry waivers to come up from Grand Rapids, and if claimed the Wings would be responsible for half of his cap hit to the claiming team. That’s not a risk they are willing to take — we saw the same situation play out this year with Derek Meech — so, if they decide to take Smith as the 7th D, Janik will play the whole season in Grand Rapids. If they take Janik as the seventh, Smith could come up and down as they please.