Detroit Red Wings: Which UFAs will return next year?

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 30: Vladislav Namestnikov #92 of the Detroit Red Wings waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 30, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings 5-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 30: Vladislav Namestnikov #92 of the Detroit Red Wings waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 30, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings 5-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Red Wings have 13 UFAs (unrestricted free agents) with expiring contracts at the end of the season.  With an unexpected two-week break to take in the season so far, let’s look at how everything so far could affect who the Red Wings offer a contract to this offseason (or perhaps earlier). Please note–I’ve included the players on the main roster for now.

Likely to re-sign

Sam Gagner

Gagner was extended last season, and there’s a good chance he’ll come back again. The depth forward has been consistent among Detroit’s bottom-six, both as a two-way player and a competent driver of offense. Gagner has four goals and eight assists on the year – that’s two more points than Filip Zadina.

Gagner isn’t quite as effective as Namestinkov, but unlike Vlad, he’s probably not going to end up on the trading block at the deadline. He’s not a needle mover in terms of what he brings to the team, but he’s more than capable in bottom-six roles.

Maybe

Vladislav Namestnikov

Namestnikov has been the most efficient depth scorer on the team, with 16 points through 31 games. And, he loves Detroit, so that always helps. However, Namestnikov might be a sneaky-good trading piece at the deadline: a versatile forward/center that can provide competent defense and depth scoring. We’ll have to wait until after the trade deadline to see if Namestnikov returns.

Nick Leddy

If he’s not traded, it’d make sense for Detroit to bring back the veteran defender. Leddy fills the thin left-shot defenseman spot (although there are prospects that’ll likely strengthen the position) and he’s been alright as the second power play quarterback. While he won’t get anything close to his current $5.5 million contract, Leddy would be a welcome addition for the right price. However, that’s if he’s not traded, which is a very real possibility by the deadline.

Marc Staal

I mean, he was extended last offseason, so why not again? Staal has never really been a fan favorite in his time in Detroit. He’s a middle/bottom-pairing aging defenseman that doesn’t really stick out on the ice. To be fair, he does seem to be a great leader in the locker room, which is always important for a young team. However, I’d bet that the Wings elect to go with free agency or a prospect to fill his spot next season.

Not likely to return

Carter Rowney

Rowney has essentially just done his job with his time on Detroit’s fourth line, and honestly, that was probably the intention when Yzerman signed him. Just a really competent fill-in that won’t make major or consistent mistakes.  The organization will probably elect to have a prospect or younger player take that role next year instead of offering an extension.

Danny DeKeyser

Does much need to be said here? DeKeyser has been a defensive liability, not worthy of his top-pairing with Moritz Seider. DK’s time in Detroit will almost certainly come to an end as soon as the offseason hits. His effort has certainly been seen, but at this point, it’s just not enough–especially with a ton of defensive talent banging at the door.

Thomas Greiss

Greiss has not been great as Detroit’s backup goalie. He has a 3.52 goals against average and a sub .900 save percentage. Greiss is an extremely streaky goaltender, as evidenced by last year’s performance. That’s not a great trait to have as a backup. The Red Wings will likely just let Greiss go his own way during the offseason.

Troy Stecher

Stecher never really seemed to catch a break in his time with the Red Wings. The fanbase loved him last year, but he never really seemed to get that sort of affection from the coaching staff – he was a healthy scratch more than once. He was also absent from Detroit’s protected list in the expansion draft. Just a few weeks into this season, Stecher was put on IR, off the ice until at least February. At this point, it looks like the organization will just let Stecher walk in the offseason.

light. Related Story. A third of the way through, which RFAs could be back next season?