Fans of the Detroit Red Wings, who were hoping to see prized free agent Steven Stamkos don the Winged Wheel next season, were disappointed on Wednesday. He decided to forgo free agency and re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning before his status as the most coveted free agent in recent memory officially began.
Despite missing out on Stamkos, Detroit still has plenty of options to improve the team through free agency come July 1. According to a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Red Wings are eyeing Milan Lucic and Frans Nielsen.
Lucic is believed to be on Detroit's want list. Stamkos and Frans Nielsen are ahead of him on the list, but he's a man of interest for DRW.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 28, 2016
Lucic, 28, spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings after playing the first eight years of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins. A rough-nosed forward with a knack for driving the net and an edge to his game, Lucic helped the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship. In his only season with the Kings, he scored 20 goals in 81 games played to go with 79 PIM.
Red Wings fans will also remember Lucic spearing Danny DeKeyser during Detroit’s 2014 playoff series with Boston. Despite his sour reputation, fans would quickly embrace the rugged forward in the same manner as they did Dino Ciccarelli and Chris Chelios.
Nielsen, 32, is the first Danish citizen to lace up the skates in the NHL and has spent his entire NHL career with the New York Islanders. Known as a play-maker, he can play on both the power play and penalty killing units. He would also help fill the gap at center Detroit now has following the retirement of Pavel Datsyuk.
He would also be an upgrade over Brad Richards, whom the Red Wings aren’t expected to retain.
While neither forward would bring the explosive offensive power that Stamkos would have, signing one or potentially both would provide a jolt to a Red Wings team that stagnated last season. They have significant cap space for the first time in recent memory, and don’t plan on letting it go to waste.