NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.
The hockey world was thrown for a loop on Wednesday afternoon, after reports surfaced that prized free-agent-to-be Steven Stamkos was taking himself off the market and re-signing with the only team he’s ever known, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 8-year deal worth $68 million came as a shock to fans, the media, and other teams that thought the former #1 pick would be available come the July 1st UFA signing period. Among the teams who were in the hunt for Stamkos’ services were the Detroit Red Wings, who had cleared up over $7.5 million in cap space just days ago in hopes of bringing him to Motown.
Now that the #1 free agent is locked up, where do the Red Wings turn? And what does this mean for the franchise going forward?
Simply put, today is a rough day for Red Wings fans and executives. They needed Stamkos here. The Wings haven’t had a 40-goal scorer since Marian Hossa was here, and this off-season was supposed to be about going “all in” for a new #91. I won’t say that Ken Holland failed, that wouldn’t be fair, but he certainly didn’t succeed, which is something we’re becoming all too familiar with in Hockeytown.
Bringing a star like Stamkos here would have meant giving the franchise a new face. It would have meant giving people a reason to believe this team can compete at the highest level and challenge for a Stanley Cup. It would have meant opening a brand new building in 2017 with not only flair in the stands, but on the ice. What are we left with now? The same. The same standard that we’ve been accustomed to for the past 5-7 years. Mediocrity.
So to where do the Wings turn now? That’s a brilliant question because they now have loads of cap space, and the free agent crop past Stamkos was nothing special. Whether they go after Kyle Okposo, David Backes, Loui Eriksson or Frans Nielsen, they’ll just be overpaying a guy who will come here after their prime and be a 2nd or 3rd line forward. Detroit has enough 2nd and 3rd line players, we don’t need more. The Wings lack a superstar, and that’s what Stamkos represented.
It’s probably time to admit that this town isn’t the free agent destination is used to be. It sucks to say, but top players just don’t want to play here.