The Detroit Red Wings have more money than they're used to playing around with for July 1. Aside from the top defenseman (or two) they desperately need, the Red Wings are looking to add another power forward.
Currently, the team relies heavily on Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to carry the large bulk of the offense, with players like Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, and Jiri Hudler being several of the key "fallback" guys who can, theoretically, capitalize when Datsyuk or Zetterberg are struggling. During the regular season, this setup worked fairly well until the last 25 games of the season, which saw Franzen drop off the radar and Filppula struggle to make the score sheet over the final 15 games.
The only contract up this off-season, however, is Hudler's. It's been speculated that the team should think about letting the Czech player go and test the free agency market. While Hudler had the most goals for the Red Wings this past season, fans have had a love/hate relationship since he took the team to arbitration, then left for the KHL for a year three seasons ago. Upon his return season, his numbers were lackluster compared to before; his saving grace was his ability in the shootout.
With how much output Hudler had this past season, he could easily put on a price tag of about $4 million, which is more than what the Red Wings may want to sign him for.
So what are other options for the Red Wings? Alexander Semin and Zach Parise are probably the two biggest forwards available this offseason.
Semin probably will not stay with the Washington Capitals, especially with all of the bad press he's been getting. His price tag right now with the Capitals is $6.7 million, but would he be willing to sign for more around $5 million to play wearing a Winged Wheel on his chest? The only concern Red Wings fans would have with Semin is his motivation.
In Washington, Semin has been reported as a relatively lazy player; he could be up at the top of the league for points year after year, but he lacks the work ethic. Coming to a team with a stable head coach and a consistent lineup, would he shake that habit and be able to produce? Mike Babcock has been ranked as one of the most demanding coaches in the NHL - if anyone could make sure Semin stays on task, it would be him.
The biggest question for Parise is whether the New Jersey Devils will re-sign their captain or not. If they win the Stanley Cup, it doesn't seem likely that they would be willing to part with him. His cap hit is $6 million, nowhere near the price of Hudler, but his output is phenomenal, and fairly consistent from year-to-year. Could Holland pull another Marian Hossa-like deal? Anything is possible.
But will the draw of always looking like a Cup contender year in and year out be enough for any bigger-name players to take a bit of a pay cut when there is no more legendary blue liner on the roster? Nicklas Lidstrom's absence may cause some players to be a little less trusting, but leave it to Ken Holland to work his magic.
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