Detroit–a team that always has someone ready to step in–has been bleeding quality so far this off-season. The number of players who have made their exit from Motown this summer is approaching phenomenal: Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler (maybe), Chris Chelios, Mikael Samuelsson, Tomas Kopecky. That’s a lot of talent.
And we know the Red Wings have plenty of young talent bubbling under, but lots of teams have that and those players take time to develop and contribute (why I feel it necessary to tell Oilers fans this is beyond me).
Plus the number of truly aged men who are on the downturn and signed to contracts for 2009-10 is alarming: Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood and even though he does not age like mortals, Nik Lidstrom.
Don’t get me wrong: the Red Wings have won two pennants in a row, have a system bursting with talent and a wonderful group of players in their prime: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Valteri Filppula, Niklas Kronwall, Daniel Cleary and the hits just keep coming.
However, the Wings have some holes. Lidstrom can’t go on forever and they have some contracts that are dear along the blue: Brian Rafalski ($6M), Brad Stuart ($3.75M). They also have some guys making a lot of money up front but the money is more wisely spent at forward.
I’ve been reading about the Red Wings lately (Jim Devallano’s book Hockeytown) and Ken Holland usually makes moves in two’s and three’s so after the Hudler decision comes down I imagine they’ll be extremely active. There are some useful free agents available (Tanguay, PJ Axelsson, Manny Malhotra, etc) and of course there is the trade route.
The Oilers have several players who are Red Wing “types”: Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray, Ales Hemsky, Lubomir Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert, Denis Grebeshkov. Others. Should the Red Wings want to move salary in order to sign some free agents to improve overall depth of actual NHL players, there may be a window of opportunity for a team like the Oilers. It might involve a package that brings in a Brad Stuart and sends away a Sheldon Souray, but there may also be a chance to acquire a Filppula, a Franzen or something else very good (but short of Zetterberg).