The offseason obviously has not reached its conclusion yet, but it seems as if we have a big enough sample size to analyze and draw conclusions on how the Detroit Red Wings have done this summer. Below are the moves the Wings have made this offseason and where exactly it leaves them in terms of competing for a Stanley Cup.
Transaction: Agreed to terms with C Pavel Datsyuk on a three-year contract extension. The deal runs through the 2016-17 season.
Analysis: Hooray. Datsyuk had been rumored to be keen on a return to his native Russia–he’s been stateside since 2001–and if he did get an extension, it wasn’t going to be anything close to the whopping seven-year contract he signed back in 2007. The 34 year-old is still at the peak of his powers on both sides of the puck, and barring injury, don’t expect his production to dip very much. GRADE: A
Transaction(s): Agreed to terms with D Jakub Kindl on a four-year contract. Re-signed F Drew Miller to a three-year contract.
Analysis: Last season was a make-or-break season for Kindl, and he responded with his best season as a Red Wing. The 26 year-old recorded 13 points (four goals) in 41 games, was a +15, and was in general a more reliable option at the back end for Mike Babcock’s squad. Kindl will also make a reasonable $2.4 million per year for the duration of the contract. Miller’s contract was agreed to two weeks prior to its signing, and came as somewhat of a surprise; not only in how quickly it was announced, but also in that the Wings were able to resign him. While Miller might not put up much in terms of points (eight points in 44 games in 2013) he is an invaluable commodity on the penalty kill. GRADE(s): Kindl B, Miller B
Transaction(s): Agreed to terms with F Daniel Alfredsson on a one-year contract. Agreed to terms with F Stephen Weiss on a five-year contract. Signed F Luke Glendening to a one-year, two-way contract.
Analysis: These were the biggies. The night before free agency started, there were whispers that longtime Senators captain Alfredsson could actually leave Ottawa, and leave he did, agreeing to a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Red Wings designed to help him win a Stanley Cup. (But I was told Detroit wasn’t a free-agent destination anymore. Hm.) The Wings later agreed to a five-year deal with the former Panther Weiss. The Weiss deal is not without risk, as he has had some durability issues in the past, but when he’s healthy he’s a top-six forward with a solid two-way game. And we know how attractive two-way players are to the Wings. Former Michigan captain Glendening could see some time on the fourth line next season but don’t expect big things from him, at least yet. GRADE(s): Alfredsson A-, Weiss B, Glendening N/A
Transaction: Bought out D Carlo Colaiacovo.
Analysis: Even when healthy (which is always a question mark) Colaiacovo wasn’t the rock-steady addition the Wings had in mind when they inked him to a deal before last season. And yes, he chopped at Frolik’s stick in Game 6. GRADE: B
Transaction: Agreed to terms with D Brendan Smith on a two-year contract.
Analysis: Smith got a lot of crap for his defensive miscues in the postseason, but let’s not forget how much potential the Wisconsin product has on both sides of the puck. He’ll get better with experience, which he is getting in spades. GRADE: B+
Now comes the big question: what do all these moves mean to the Wings’ search for Stanley Cup #12? A decent amount, actually. The Wings added experience to a burgeoning young forward corps, and certainly didn’t get worse defensively. In fact, they may have gotten better; a full season of Danny DeKeyser should have an impact at the back end. And of course, Jimmy Howard’s in net. Ken Holland is expected to wrap up deals with RFAs Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist eventually, and regardless of what happens with Daniel Cleary, the Wings will be in a better position this preseason than last preseason. With health, the Detroit Red Wings will be a Cup contender. But are they good enough to knock off favorites like Boston and Pittsburgh? We’ll see. Either way, Detroit’s not going anywhere, and the conference switch may be advantageous to them.