The Malik Report
Red Wings GM Ken Holland explains why the team will wait until July to decide Tomas Holmstrom’s fate
by George Malik on 06/12/12 at 02:28 PM ET
Updated at 1:52 PM: This morning, the Free Press’s Helene St. James reported that the Red Wings have chosen to delay their decision as to whether they will bring Tomas Holmstrom back for one more season until after the team’s explored the free agent marketplace, offering Holmstrom’s side of the story, and this afternoon, MLive’s Ansar Khan shares Wings GM Ken Holland’s reasoning regarding offering an exception to the, “If you haven’t re-signed by July 1st, we’ll move forward without you” rule:
“He wants to make sure he’s got the energy and passion – all the things Nick Lidstrom talked about before he retired,’’ Holland said. “Right now he’s leaning towards playing. We both want to see what goes on in early July.’‘
The Red Wings want to see what transpires over the next three weeks regarding potential trades or free-agent signings on or after July 1 before making a commitment to Holmstrom.
Money is not the issue. The Red Wings have plenty of salary-cap space and Holmstrom likely would return for less than the $1.5 million he earned in 2011-12. The main issue is whether the Red Wings will have a spot for Holmstrom on their 23-man roster after the dust settles from free agency. They have 18 players signed for a salary-cap hit of $44 million, including Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist, who the club intends to keep on the NHL roster but who still have minor-league options.
After they sign restricted free agents Kyle Quincey, Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, they will have 13 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders. That leaves two open spots, one for a defenseman and one for a goal-scoring winger. If the Red Wings bring back Holmstrom, they would need to trim a forward or send Nyquist back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“Let’s get another three weeks of information under our belt,’’ Holland said.
“He’s getting older, it’s getting tougher, but he feels he’s got the drive and the desire,’’ Holland said. “Right now his thought was, ‘I feel pretty good, I’m thinking of playing.’ Let’s take a little more time.’‘
And if you missed it in the mid-day news thread, Jonkopings Nyheter’s Peter Gustafsson reports that Grand Rapids Griffin and part-time Wing Chris Conner has chosen to decline offers to play for HV71 and Frolunda in the Swedish Eliteserien to continue his professional career in North America instead:
“Chris decided this weekend to play in North America for at least another season. He made the decision with his family,” said [his European agent] Pontus Noren.
“He wants to make sure he’s got energy and passion,” Holland said. “That’s all the things Nick Lidstrom talked about. Right now he’s leaning towards playing. We both want to see what goes on in early July. He wants to make sure he’s healthy,” Holland continued. “Right now he’s feeling like he’s playing. Let’s wait until early July.”
A lot of the Wings’ decision on if they’ll bring him back for one more season will be based how well free agency goes once it opens on July 1.
Detroit was in a similar situation with Kirk Maltby in 2010. Maltby wound up signing a one-year, two-way deal with the team prior to the start of training camp to compete for a roster spot. Maltby failed to win a spot when camp ended and was placed on waivers. Instead of going to Grand Rapids to play, Maltby decided to retire.
“Let’s get another three weeks of information under our belt,” Holland said. “He’s getting older, it’s getting tougher, but he feels he’s got the drive and the desire. Given what’s happened with unrestricted free agents, we’ll try to do some things here in the next three weeks,” Holland continued. “He feels today he wants to play again. Right now his thought was I feel pretty good, I’m thinking of playing. Let’s take a little more time.”
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