The Detroit Red Wings are in an interesting position as the NHL’s free agency opens Wednesday at noon. The Red Wings have $13 million available under the salary cap, but the unfortunate part is that the free agent class for 2015 is very weak. Ken Holland has already stated that they will most likely continue to let the kids take on more important roles with the big club.
There is some immense talent in the Red Wings prospect pool in all positions. The fact that they have some restricted free agents (Nyquist and Pulkkinen) and unrestricted free agents (Helm and Abdelkader) that they need to get locked up before the beginning of next season may also play a big part in Holland’s reluctance to pursue a free agent.
While it is unlikely that the Red Wings will be active when free agency opens up, there are a few players that would improve their roster for the upcoming season.
While Mike Green is not as effective offensively as he was when he was putting up over 70 points a season several years ago, he still remains a threat and has improved his defense a lot. He put up 45 points last year for the Washington Capitals and is still only 29-years old. He has a great right-handed shot which is something the Red Wings sorely lack. The problem with the free agent class being so weak is the fact that a lot of the players available will be grossly overpaid. A player like Green will likely fall to a team that is willing to give him more cash and more term than the Red Wings will offer.
If the Red Wings decide to go the cheaper route, Christian Ehrhoff could be a very good low-risk / high-reward choice. Ehrhoff is a veteran defenseman that could eat up a lot of reliable minutes playing in the Red Wings top four. He is coming off a one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins where he was often injured and didn’t live up to his potential, so he should be able to be had for a decent cap hit. Ehrhoff is not right-handed, but he definitely would give the Red Wings some better options as he is very solid defensively and has some great offensive instincts as well.
I think defense should be the Red Wings top priority in the offseason. That being said, if they were to go out and get a forward, the only player I think they should consider is Justin Williams. His numbers last season were not staggering, but he is a solid veteran who knows how to put the puck in the net, especially when the big game is on the line. He is one year removed from posting 25 points in 26 playoff games as well as tying Glenn Anderson for the NHL’s all time record for most Game 7 goals with seven. The Red Wings have had a hard time getting that big goal in the playoffs recently, and Williams may help out the situation. He also plays a great two-way game while possessing a good right-handed shot.
The only other forward that would be interesting is Matt Beleskey. Beleskey is a young, physical forward coming off a career year which saw him post 22 goals, including eight game-winners. The problem is he will be vastly overpaid and has the potential to be a huge bust. There is a ton of interest in Beleskey, but I just do not see Ken Holland taking part in the sweepstakes especially with some of the players he has to get signed in the upcoming season or two.
What do you think Nation? Would you like to see Red Wings activity when it hits noon Wednesday or do you think they should stand pat and let the younger players assume bigger roles?