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Ken Holland explains why the Wings weren’t active on the first day of free agency

Aside from recruiting Mike Commodore to join the team as a depth defenseman, the Red Wings chose not to engage in the free agency shenanigans on July 1st, and their first decision, aside from choosing to re-sign Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, involved bowing out of the Jaromir Jagr sweepstakes, as noted by the Free Press’s Helene St. James:

The Wings offered Jagr $2.5 million nearly a month ago, then waited around while his agent, Petr Svoboda, used it to entice other teams to make higher offers. As of earlier this week none had materialized; the Penguins topped out at $2.1 million for the former five-time NHL scoring champion.

When Svoboda made demands early Friday morning in the $4-million range, Wings general manager Ken Holland told him Detroit was out of the sweepstakes. The Penguins also withdrew their offer.
Ultimately Jagr signed with the Philadelphia Flyers — the in-state rival of his foremost former team, Pittsburgh — for one year and $3.3 million.

And if Holland is to be believed with players like Ian White, Anton Babchuk, Sami Lepisto, Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe still available (as of the time I’m writing this, anyway), it sounds like the Wings might not make any additions for a while, as Holland suggested to the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:

We would have probably liked to have made a bigger move, but as I look back on (Friday) there wasn’t a lot of opportunity really,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview. “We tried to make some moves, but because we couldn’t provide the opportunity or we couldn’t provide the term or the cap money the day is almost over and it looks like we didn’t do a lot.”

Commodore, 31, got a one-year deal from the Wings worth $1 million.

“We think he can provide an element that we don’t have a lot of,” Holland said. “He’s got size, grit and adds toughness to our lineup. He can also kill penalties.”

For now, Holland believes that the Wings are in the driver’s seat, so to speak, while sitting on the sidelines…

“We explored some people, but in a lot of cases where we were interested we couldn’t provide the opportunity for them to have a bigger role when they looked at our roster,” Holland said. “We’ve got all summer to put the pieces in place. We’ve got a No. 1 goaltender,” Holland continued. “Look at our defense and we’ve got Brendan Smith who’s a first-round pick, an All-American at college and made the All-Rookie team in the American League. How close is he? I don’t know. If you went out and signed a bunch of people and boxed him out from making the team I don’t know if that’s in our best interest. And we’ve got a young kid in (Doug) Janik. Some of these guys are unknown, but unless you give them an opportunity to play how do they ever become known?”

And Holland’s right when he suggests that, given everything that happened on Friday, Jonathan Ericsson’s $3.25 million salary no longer seems insane:

“It’s the going rate, if you look at what’s happened here,” Holland said. “If Big E’s on the market he would have gotten more money.”

“His best years are ahead of him,” Holland said. “We’ll give him a bigger role, an opportunity to play more minutes. His game is improving. Everybody needs defensemen,” Holland continued. “I think it’s the most important position on a team, along with a high-end center. If you don’t have defensemen you can’t get the puck moved along.”

As for the team’s desire to add another defenseman and/or a back-up goalie, well…

“[Kris] Draper wants to play, [Chris] Osgood is interested in playing,” Holland said. “In goal we explored three or four guys. They all signed elsewhere and they all went for opportunity. They went where they went because they think there is opportunity to be a No. 1 or be a No. 1 in a year or two. We’ve got a guy in Jimmy Howard who’s in the prime of his career and we think he’s going to be a good goaltender in this league,” Holland added. “He was a better goaltender last season compared to the year before and he’s going to be better this year.”

I happen to think—or maybe hope—that Holland’s bluffing, and that he’ll at least sign an offensive-minded defenseman, if not a back-up goaltender, instead of simply hoping to plod along until the trade deadline, and the Fan 590’s Greg Brady offered this tidbit up:

Red Wings are eagerly trying to move Jiri Hudler & offered him to loads of teams (Leafs included) at the Draft. Be shocked if he’s back.

It’s the first day of free agency and prices are nuts. Let’s see what Holland and the Wings do over the course of this month and go from there…

And in the interim, well, I guess, fellow Wings fans, that we need to keep crossing our fingers that there’s more to come.

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CaptNorris5's avatar

As a whole, we’re kind of ignoring our 2012 situation. It sucks, but it doesn’t look like Kenny’s going to make any major moves. Those major moves require term - we’ve got to commit dollars over more than just this year. Next season, 5 forwards are going to be free agents. Bert and Homer - guys who perform beyond their cap hit - may be done by then and will need to be replaced. Hudler will be off the books, and will either need to be re-signed (puke) or replaced. Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader will both earn raises, especially so for the former.

Then, there’s the “most important position on the team” (per, Kenny). Four of our six currently signed players will be UFAs. If TPH hangs them up, it is not going to be cheap to futilely try and fill that hole. Kronwall and Stuart will be due for raises (ESPECIALLY in light of Ericsson’s contract). Kronwall will command Rafalski money.

Then, of course, there’s 2 years down the road. Where we have five players signed. Just 5. Kenny’s gotta think about the future. Re-signing the guys we’ve got will likely be a major priority and unless something wows him - and, let’s face it, in this market it won’t - he’s likely going to be much happier shoring up those raises and extensions first before he starts throwing cash and term at overvalued guys on the open market.

Still - that to me is the worst part of this Ericsson contract. $3.25m to suck is crazy. Just think how much of a field day Kronwall’s agent is going to have that one. “Hey… my client DOESN’T suck… how about $8.5m?”

Posted by CaptNorris5 from The Winged Wheel, stuck in Chicago on 07/02/11 at 04:20 AM ET

CaptNorris5's avatar

There is no earthly way that Weber will ever be a Red Wing. I know we really like the idea, but it’s not going to happen. He’s expressed interest in staying in Nashville, they need one or two decent players to keep the few fans they’ve got in the seats, and they’ve got an ever rising cap floor to consider. My guess, Weber signs a 10 year deal with a NMC.

Doughty? That’d be awesome, but I can’t see LA allowing that to happen. They’re clearly willing to spend some cash, considering they’re pursuing Richards. Doughty will likely remain a king.

I could see Yandle happen. That team won’t even be in that city in a couple of years. While we’re at it, we should trade for Phoenix’s first round pick next year. That bitch is going to be VALUABLE.

Posted by CaptNorris5 from The Winged Wheel, stuck in Chicago on 07/02/11 at 04:31 AM ET

awould's avatar

Posted by CaptNorris5 from The Winged Wheel, stuck in Chicago on 07/02/11 at 02:31 AM ET

i agree with all of that.

Posted by awould on 07/02/11 at 04:38 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Posted by CaptNorris5 from The Winged Wheel, stuck in Chicago on 07/02/11 at 02:31 AM ET

I think that’s a pretty accurate take on the RFA situation.  Weber and Doughty = pipe dream…Yandle, at the very least, a possibility.  Plus, as I’ve posted elsewhere, I think Yandle’s skill set is far more Red Wing-like than any of the UFA D-men who were/are available this year.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 07/02/11 at 05:12 AM ET

ITDeuce's avatar

Detroit is not going to deal Helm.  Not right now anyway.

Posted by ITDeuce from The Sunny High Desert on 07/02/11 at 11:09 AM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

Yandle, at the very least, a possibility.  Plus, as I’ve posted elsewhere, I think Yandle’s skill set is far more Red Wing-like than any of the UFA D-men who were/are available this year.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 07/02/11 at 03:12 AM ET

Or Bagosian?  Haven’t really watched too much of him though to get a read.

Posted by cigar_nurse from On The mend for next season Greenville Pylons on 07/02/11 at 12:20 PM ET


I understand that Holland has to look ahead to next year when he has 5 forewards and 2 defenceman becoming free agents, but would we really sign all of them and again stop our youth in the AHL from coming up into the roster?  If I were Holland then I would probably let Bert, Holmstrom and definitely Hudler go next season.  Bert would be 37 and Holmer 39.  The money left over from not signing all of the three above would definitely be enough to sign Stuart and Kronwall and bring up a couple youngsters into the roster.  Helm and Abby probably wont demand too big of raises and we should be able to come up with the money for them.  All of this should allow us to sign a defenceman like Yandle this year, so we not only can compete at a higher level this year and hopefully make it deep into the post season, but also get younger for the future.

Posted by mtlj45 on 07/02/11 at 12:33 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.