2 pending Red Wings free agents speak in different tones

Reading the tea leaves as the Detroit Red Wings players did their season-ending exit interviews on Thursday.
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One of the more intriguing storylines surrounding the Detroit Red Wings heading into the summer will be the future of star winger Patrick Kane. Kane, 35, enjoyed a bounce-back season or, shall I say, a 'prove the hip is fine' season, albeit a bit abbreviated with the Red Wings. Now, his future beyond this season is a bit murky, and when prompted like a great poker player, he wouldn't tip his hand, at least directly. Kane did use a few interesting words as he spoke in the past tense, though, during Thursday's exit interviews courtesy of Max Bultman of The Athletic.

“It was a great year,” Kane said. “I have nothing but positive things to say about the organization, obviously the opportunity from (Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman), and (head coach Derek Lalonde) to give me the chance to come and play, the situations I was put in, I feel like I got a lot of opportunity to play in the top six and power play, and just play with some great players. It was fun to be around the group. It was fun to be a Wing and in this organization. And I’ll definitely have some memories to last me a lifetime.”

When asked if he expected to hit the open market on July 1st, Kane said that he'd explore his option with Detroit to see if it's still a fit. He mentioned that it's hard to say at this point if he will hit the open market and said we'll see what happens. Kane went on to say "It’s hard to really fully understand the situation. But I guess we’ll kind of see, see what happens. I’m sure my agent and Steve will have those conversations and kind of go from there.”

Kane led the Detroit Red Wings with seven game-winning goals; he totaled 20 goals and 27 assists over 50 games, averaging well over 18 minutes of ice time per night. Kane maintained a Corsi For Percentage of 48.4% and was a minus-5 overall. The dynamic winger is far from a complete player, but he understands that he's a bit one-dimensional and has no desire to work on the penalty kill as others embrace those roles. Kane isn't someone who will play a physical brand of hockey or win a ton of board battles, but he's someone who, if playing with the right two-way center, can and has excelled being a creative offensive weapon. He's often displayed silky-smooth hands and elite vision. With the Red Wings, Kane was frequently utilized as the zone entry player on the top power-play unit, and somehow so often was able to thread and convert those airtight cross-seam passes through heavy traffic on the power play.

A few things will factor into Kane's decision this summer, and if a reunion with the Detroit Red Wings makes sense. Detroit's first order of business will be extending pending restricted free agents Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider. Then, Yzerman will need to decide whether it's logical to extend Kane for whatever the asking price will be. Certainly, after proving his worth in Detroit, multiple teams will be willing to give Kane a two or three-year deal with an average annual value that lands somewhere between five and $6 million. Will Yzerman be willing to sign an aging winger with a serious hip issue (that was repaired and held up) that feels like it could become a problem at any time to a multi-year deal?

“It’s kind of hard to say right now, because everything’s just so fresh, with the season being done and everything,” Kane said. “I think coming into this year, my decision was based on playing on a good team, a team where I thought I fit in well, obviously the comfort (of) playing with Alex (DeBrincat) again was something I was looking forward to, and really enjoyed that as well. But as the season goes on, you realize there’s a lot of good players here, there’s a lot of good players to play with, and like I said before, was put in a great situation to succeed, and play a lot of minutes and play with some good players. So I was real appreciative of that.

“And I think it will be similar going forward, too. It’s like: How do I fit in with the team? Who would I play with? Things like that. I mean obviously, I think from being in Chicago for so long, and then going to New York, coming to Detroit, maybe looking for, like, a little bit more stability as far as like, term. But I think the right situation matters too.”

Also, before Kane chose to join the Red Wings, he did extensive research on where he'd fit and what would be expected of him. A lot of that was discussions with head coach Derek Lalonde. I can't help but wonder if maybe Lalonde's immediate future with the organization will play a role in Kane's decision. There is a human element that will factor into the decision as well. We all know that Kane is good friends with Alex DeBrincat, and we've all seen those heartwarming videos of the Kane and DeBrincat families waiting for their husbands and fathers to take the ice. That type of stuff and those relationships will play a greater role than many might think. Only time will tell, but it will be a fascinating storyline to follow. Perhaps Kane wants to return to Chicago to play with Connor Bedard?

Unlike Patrick Kane, Red Wings pending free agent David Perron spoke in the present tense during his interview.

When asked about his future, David Perron said, “There’s no reason, at this point, to think about anywhere else,” he said. He also answered a few questions with 'we' and 'us,' suggesting that he's fully committed to returning to Detroit. Also, it's not that it ultimately matters when it comes to free agency, but Perron wears a letter on his jersey and seems like someone with a team-first mentality. I wouldn't entirely read too much into the way Kane answered his questions compared to Perron, but there might be something there. Don't forget that Perron has spent two whole years in Detroit rather than just the six-month stay Kane enjoyed.

Perron is coming off a two-year deal that averaged $4.75 million. The soon-to-be 36-year-old notched 17 goals and 46 points this season while playing less than 16 minutes per night. Four of Perron's 17 goals were game-winners, and seven came on the power play. Last season, albeit having a larger role, Perron totaled 24 goals and 56 points.

If Yzerman elects to bring back the team's vocal leader, I'd expect it on a year-to-year basis and likely at a more affordable rate. I think Perron would land in the $3.5-$4 million per range next year.