Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told a Detroit radio station that the club will be very active in improving the club this off-season.
We’re going to be aggressive as we possible can be.
And with upwards of $20.0 million in salary cap space, they will have plenty ammunition at their disposal.
We’ve got great ownership that’s committed to this team and this city. I’ll sit down with Mr. Ilitch (owner Mike) at some point prior to the draft (June 22-23) and let him know what I’m thinking and what I want to do and then we’ll see if we can make some moves to keep the team competitive.
Holland is sure to get buy-in on his plans from ownership considering the amount of respect Ilitch’s has for Holland and the owner’s own concerns about defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom’s departure.
We’re very concerned — Lidstroms don’t grow on trees. We got our work cut out for us. I hate to say this, but we’re not gonna see anybody like him again. We’re gonna get some good players, we’ll have good teams, but there’ll never be another Nick Lidstrom.
Ted Kulfman of the Detroit News reports that Holland will gather assistants Jim Nill and Ryan Martin, senior vice president/alternate governor Jimmy Devellano, coach Mike Babcock and scouts to formulate a comprehensive battle plan.
I want to see what everybody is thinking, get opinions.
One potential target is pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Ryan Suter, according to Josh Slagter of mLive.com. With Lidstrom gone, and Brad Stuart looking to sign with the Sharks so he can be close to his family in the San Jose area, the Red Wings’s primary focus will be on retooling their blueline.
We’re not going to have that star power on the back end with Nick walking away (unless they sign Suter). But we have cap space and I feel real confident in our scouts, pro and amateur, and our coaching staff. And we’ll find a way to make some moves and we’ll put a team on the ice that we think can be competitive.
USA Today’s Kevin Allen lists a number of potential blueliners that may become available: Jason Garrison of the Florida Panthers, Barret Jackman of the St. Louis Blues, Matt Carle of the Philadelphia Flyers and Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils.
Ansar Khan of mLive.com also adds Dennis Wideman of the Washington Capitals, Filip Kuba of the Ottawa Senators, and potential college free agent Justin Schultz of the Anaheim Ducks.
Allen suggests that the Red Wings are also expected to pursue Devils’ UFA captain Zach Parise and a “couple of scorers” to bolster their offense, especially if 39-year-old forward Tomas Holmstrom retires, as well.
Holland tells Jason Brough of NBC Sports that he would even be willing to offer teams like Nashville and New Jersey a draft pick, prospect, or player for players like Suter and/or Parise to acquire their negotiating rights before July 1st.
Yeah, absolutely. If the price is right and it’s a player we’re interested in.
As ESPN’s Craig Custance points out, that strategy has been employed more frequently because the “pool of high-end players who actually hit the market on July 1 continues to shrink.” Teams like Nashville that gave up a lot of draft picks at the trade deadline may want to recuperate some of those lost assets if they can’t close the deal with Suter — who may bring more than any other previous player.
However, there are no guarantees that Suter — or other free agents — will be made available or hit the open market come July 1st. And Holland is fully aware of it.
Problem is, over the next month, a lot of players are going to re-up with their teams. You’ve got to have a whole lot of plans because there’s a whole lot of moving parts that’s out there. Twenty-nine other teams have got the same desire that we’ve got.
Should the Red Wings end up doing nothing via free agency, Holland and his staff will look internally and to the draft to improve their club.
You’ve got to draft and you’ve got to develop. We want Brendan Smith to make our team, we’re going to give Gustav Nyquist a chance. You just need to make the playoffs and you need to get hot. You need to get some luck with injuries. Everybody that makes the playoffs now legitimately has a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
It won’t be a rebuild, though. Holland tells Khan that the Red Wings will do everything possible to improve their roster and remain a top club in the league.
We want to compete. We don’t want to go into any rebuild. We have a lot of pieces in place. We need to make some moves, either through trades or free agency. We have a lot of work ahead in the next 4-6 weeks. That’s the goal here this summer, to put a team together that Wings fans are going to be proud of.
But, as Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News points out, that doesn’t mean Detroit won’t have to change the way they play the game. Especially if they can’t find a suitable replacement for Lidstrom.
We like to hang onto the puck, and the game is becoming more chip and chase, banging and crashing. Do we want to continue with a lot of skill, or become a little bigger, a little grittier? I don’t know if you change this thing overnight. We’re gonna sign somebody. A lot of people talk about the big, sexy name, but it takes a lot of pieces.