One dream, one realistic, and one bargain free agent for the Red Wings to sign in NHL free agency

The Detroit Red Wings won’t end up with much cap space for NHL free agency after they make some key re-signings and extensions, but they’ll sign some talent.
Detroit Red Wings v Calgary Flames
Detroit Red Wings v Calgary Flames / Leah Hennel/GettyImages
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Once they make a few key re-signings, conventional wisdom assumes the Detroit Red Wings will have very little cap space to top into NHL free agency. And conventional wisdom is correct, considering how much Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, among other assets, will cost them to keep. 

Luckily for the Wings, they can still make a dent in free agency if general manager Steve Yzerman spends his money wisely. And by that, I mean he spends no more than roughly $4 million on a cap hit for any pending free agent. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t a dream free agent out there who could go for a bargain price and wouldn’t dramatically improve the Wings, especially when they don’t have the puck. 

Let’s check out who that dream free agent is, but there’s also room to discuss a more logical signing who should be well within Yzerman’s budget, plus a bargain deal who wouldn’t fare as a half-bad addition. 

Dream Free Agent: Nikita Zadorov, D/Vancouver Canucks

Nikita Zadorov is one of a few pending free agents on the Vancouver Canucks blue line, and it would be tough for general manager Patrik Allvin to find a way to keep all of them intact for 2024-25. There could be several odd men out, and Zadorov is no exception despite enjoying a fine season in British Columbia.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a dream free agent for a team that needs better play among the blue line. Someone like Zadorov may not flip the rotation’s success, but he would improve the second he signs a deal in a place like Detroit - assuming Steve Yzerman tries to bring the 29-year-old to town. 

Zadorov was only on the ice for 29 goals at even strength throughout his 54 regular season games in a Canucks uniform. He can help move the puck and set up plays, something his 48.1 Corsi For, while dipping 50 percent, shows us from his time in Vancouver despite a lower offensive zone starting percentage of 40.5. 

No, Zadorov may not hold the ‘dream label’ in the eyes of every fan, but for a team that allowed 274 goals this past season, plenty of those following the Red Wings would more than welcome him to their team’s lineup.