Our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams continues with the Detroit Red Wings and their outlook for the summer.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in over a quarter of a century, the Detroit Red Wings have only begun phase one of what looks to be a longer rebuild than some of the other recent rebuilds in the league– but one offseason, this offseason, can change the pace.
Detroit finished 5th in the Atlantic Division with a 30-39-13 record and 73 points on the season in 2017-18. While that’s two places removed from a divisional spot in the current Stanley Cup Playoff format, keep in mind that 73 points would put them just ahead of the Arizona Coyotes and tied with the Vancouver Canucks in the overall league standings.
So things, while they may seem otherwise, are pretty dire in the Red Wings organization.
Short of trading Petr Mrazek to the Philadelphia Flyers for Philadelphia’s stretch run to the postseason, the Red Wings didn’t make much news in the headlines or noise around the league.
General Manager Ken Holland signed a two-year extension in April to remain as Detroit’s general manager through the 2019-20 season and looks to see this rebuild through in his tenure with the franchise.
2018 NHL Entry Draft
The Red Wings currently have two first round picks in the Draft as part of seven total picks in the first three rounds (two firsts, two second round picks and three third round picks).
Pending any transactions, Detroit is expected to select 6th and 30th overall (via the Vegas Golden Knights, thanks to the Tomas Tatar deadline deal).
They’ll likely search for help on the blueline in Quintin Hughes, Evan Bouchard or Adam Boqvist with the higher of the two picks and could very well utilize any of the five other picks in the first three rounds on either prospects or additions to the current roster via a trade.
Author’s note (for those interested): Detroit has their own first round pick, Vegas’s first round pick, their own second round pick, Ottawa’s second round pick, their own third round pick, Philadelphia’s third round pick and Pittsburgh’s third round pick in the first three rounds of the 2018 Draft.
Pending free agents
Despite a lot of no-trade-clauses and no-movement-clauses to work around, the Red Wings have almost $17.4 million in cap space this summer and five pending-restricted free agents to re-sign, including Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.
It’s imperative that Holland finds a trading partner or two to ship out one or more of the players with NTCs or NMCs willing to waive their clause(s), because Larkin’s next deal alone (both in cap and clauses) could very well strap the team in a wedge of roster components that they cannot otherwise move around.
Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyqvist present themselves as viable options to move with Helm, 31, and Abdelkader, 31, having to waive their NTCs before agreeing to any deal and Nyqvist as a 28-year-old rental player with one-year remaining on his current contract.
Anthanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Martin Frk and Mantha are several key components to the club moving forward and should all be re-signed, while pending-unrestricted free agent forward, David Booth, likely could hit the open market.
Ericsson and Kronwall are two cornerstones of Detroit’s defense in both their tenure with the team in addition to their veteran presence, while Daley was signed last July after winning a couple of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. All three have some form of an NTC and are signed at a combined cap hit of $12.167 million next season, with Kronwall only signed through the end of 2018-19 at $4.750 million.
Holland will have to make some dance moves to address the overabundance of NTCs and NMCs sooner rather than later, but can probably put the defense on the back burner for another year as part of the long haul plan.
Mike Green is the only pending-UFA defender and since he wasn’t dealt at the deadline as a 32-year-old veteran seeking his first chance at a Cup, should not return to the organization.
Jimmy Howard is the number one goaltender in Detroit for the foreseeable future with one-year remaining on his contract.
As such, finding a competitive backup that could overtake Howard for the number one role remains a priority this offseason, given Jared Coreau‘s less than impressive bid for starting goaltender status.
Speaking of Coreau, the 26-year-old goaltender is a pending-UFA.
If Holland is willing to risk a season worse than this one in an already weak Atlantic Division, then the time is now to make some moves and truly bottom out before rising quickly back to Cup contender status like the great Red Wings teams of the 1990s and 2000s.
Other pending free agents throughout the organization include: