The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/23/12 at 07:07 PM ET
Updated 2x at 9:16 PM: If the Red Wings’ haul of prospects picked during the latter round of the 2012 Draft left you feeling less than enthused as the Wings approach free agency, especially given the moves made by Pittsburgh to supposedly make runs at “natural fits” in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, well…
GM Ken Holland wants you to know that Detroit will be very active and very aggressive on July 1st, as he told the Associated Press’s Larry Lage:
“We’re going to be active and very involved in free agency because we have cap space and holes we’d like to fill,” Holland said. “But to be successful, you have to draft and develop guys.”
While the [Wings’] draft picks will have time to develop, Detroit will need some free agents to attempt to make up for the departures of defencemen Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart along with the potential loss of 50-point forward Jiri Hudler in free agency. The Red Wings have about $20 million in cap space and might be willing to use most of that to sign New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan Suter if they aren’t re-signed by their teams and are available on the market July 1. Holland can’t talk about players he’s targeting, but knows the franchise will be in the spotlight when free agency begins.
“Everybody looks at the Red Wings and expects big splashes,” he said. “We have a lot of pieces in place and I like our team, but we need to make two or three moves through free agency or trades.”
Detroit didn’t plan to have Stuart back on the blue line next season because he wanted to live closer to his family in California, leading to the Red Wings trading the potential free agent to San Jose earlier this month. The franchise was hoping Lidstrom would return for a 21st season until the day he officially announced his retirement last month. The four-time Stanley Cup champion, seven-time Norris Trophy winner and captain simply can’t be replaced.
Suter, though, would go a long way toward bolstering the team’s depleted defence. The 26-year-old All-Star has spent his seven-season career with the Predators.
The 27-year-old Parise would provide a big boost up front, where Detroit might be without Hudler, who might want to see what he can get on the open market instead of settling for what the Red Wings are offering. Parise would give Detroit a third star forward to go along with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. He has been with the Devils during each of his seven seasons in the league, helping them reach the Stanley Cup finals with 15 points in 24 post-season games after scoring 31 goals during the regular season.
Detroit decided to keep 25-year-old forward Darren Helm with an $8.5 million, four-year contract in the hopes that he will develop from a role player to a standout. The Red Wings are also counting on younger players such as defenceman Brendan Smith and forward Gustav Nyquist to play key roles this season.
“There’s always talk about us being old, but we’re getting younger,” Holland said. “We’ve got a 27-year-old goalie in Jimmy Howard, entering his prime. Niklas Kronwall is 31 and the rest of our defencemen are in their 20s. And if we have a healthy Dan Cleary, I really like us up front with high-octane guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk. We may not have the star power we’ve had the last 10 years, but I don’t think the sky is falling for the Detroit Red Wings.”
Update: Well here’s an interesting dose of perspective on Parise and Suter from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun (via Paul as usual):
The question now is not which teams will bid on Zach Parise come July 1, but rather which teams won’t? The latter might be a shorter list.
Detroit, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and several other clubs will chase this year’s No. 1 UFA forward. But don’t forget New Jersey. The Devils still have a shot at retaining their star captain.
“We’ll certainly do anything that can be done,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told ESPN.com Saturday. “It’s mutual on both sides. We have to find a way.”
Lamoriello chose not to trade away Parise’s rights this weekend, which is par for the course. He never deals away UFA rights. Nor did any team approach him this weekend asking about the rights.
“No, because they know better,” smiled Lamoriello.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, are expected be major players July 1—for both Parise and Ryan Suter. Easier said than done, given the competition and interest. Either way, an interesting time for the Wings in the post-Nicklas Lidstrom world.
“We’re transitioning from a different group of Red Wings to a young group of Red Wings,” Wings GM Ken Holland told ESPN.com Saturday. “That’s why we signed Darren Helm, we think he’s coming into his prime years. But as we get into July 1, we’re obviously going to explore the market just as we have every year. We’ve got more cap space, but I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.”
Update #2: More from Holland from the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
“Teams are positioning themselves with July 1 approaching,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “But it’s a process. There may have been a lot of talk but not a whole lot of trades.”
[Jordan] Staal was sent to Carolina for young forward Brandon Sutter, the No. 8 overall pick Friday, and a prospect in the Hurricanes organization. It would have been difficult for the Wings, who weren’t the mix for Staal, to match the Hurricanes’ offer, with the Wings having no first-round pick.
“You have to have a fit,” Holland said.
The Pittsburgh trade could impact the Wings on July 1, when they — and many other teams — likely go after Ryan Suter, the Nashville defenseman who is expected to be the biggest name among available defenseman. The Penguins cleared out considerable cap space with the trading of Staal and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (to Phoenix), and are expected to make a run at Suter or maybe Zach Parise, the New Jersey forward who could be the most sought after player if he pursues free agency.
Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero drafted Suter when Shero was an assistant general manager in Nashville. The Penguins feel Suter’s talents would blend nicely onto a Penguins roster that is led by Hart Trophy-winning Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
The Wings, along with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, were rumored to be discussing the availability of Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle, 25, an offensive defenseman who has is entering the prime of years of his career. But the asking price from the Coyotes was rumored to be understably large and Phoenix reportedly wasn’t serious in dealing Yandle.
“We have a lot of cap space (over $20 million) and we’re looking to be aggressive on July 1,” Holland said. “I talked with other teams and it doesn’t mean that somewhere down the line we can’t have further discussions. But right now, our main focus is on July 1.”
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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.