Steve Yzerman can upgrade the Detroit Red Wings roster this off-season in various ways.
Yzerman may look to cash in on his stashed draft capital and make a blockbuster trade. Max Bultman of The Athletic (subscription) recently pointed out that the Detroit Red Wings could find a top scorer on the trade market this summer. Bultman speculates that depending on what happens in the postseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Winnipeg Jets could be destined for a major shakeup this summer due to being extremely tight to the salary cap with stars to sign.
The Leafs enter the summer with star center Auston Matthews and William Nylander both entering the final year of their deal. Matthews is the priority, with Nylander perhaps landing on the trade block. Teams generally avoid trading within their division which makes this scenario very unlikely.
Bultman also mentioned the Jets have Pierre-Luc Dubois’ RFA negotiation to deal with. However, it may be a pipedream that could leave former Michigan Wolverine forward Kyle Connor expendable.
Another option, but again unlikely due to being in the same division, is looking to acquire Detroit native Alex DeBrincat from Ottawa. The Senators, like Detroit, are building, so I can’t see a divisional rival like Ottawa moving a two-time 40-goal scorer to a place where he may eventually burn you.
The alternative is that Yzerman may keep all of his high-end draft assets and look to free agency for an impact forward. Jesper Bratt is a pending restricted free agent the Detroit Red Wings could consider submitting an offer sheet to.
However, offering RFA’s can be a dangerous game; ask the Montreal Canadiens. As wonderfully told in an article by Forbes, “On July 1, 2019, Montreal signed Carolina’s young restricted free agent center Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet that covered five years, with a cap hit of just under $8.5 million per season and an actual salary of $12 million in the first year. At that point, Tom Dundon had been the Hurricanes’ majority owner for just a year and a half, and there had been whispers that he might not have enough cash on hand to pay the $11.3 million in signing bonus money that would be due immediately if he matched.”
As they say, an elephant never forgets. In the summer of 2021, the Hurricanes returned the favor by signing center Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet worth $6.1 million.
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A few unrestricted free agents that may catch the Detroit Red Wings’ eye this summer are Alex Killorn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Max Domi, Timo Meier (if he actually hits the market), or maybe even a reunion with Tyler Bertuzzi.