Just figured this could be an interesting duscussion on differing opinions over what the Red Wings could do heading into the offseason.
Here are the questions:
1. How do they approach the following impending UFAs/RFAs? (This is assuming that they are obviously going to re-sign important RFA's like Tatar, DeKeyser, Sheahan, etc.):
UFA's: Legwand, Alfredsson, Quincey, Samuelsson, Bertuzzi, Cleary and Gustavsson
2. Should they use their last compliance buyout? If yes, on who?
3. Out of waiver exemption for next season, should Ferraro, Callahan and/or Almquist have spots on next years roster? (This is assuming that Sheahan has pretty much played himself onto next seasons roster)
4. Still having waiver exemption, should Jurco and/or Mrazek be given spots on the big club, or start the year in GR? Any others?
5. What UFA's should they target on July 1st?
1. They should definitely re-sign:
-Legwand - He's been decent for the team, especially when playing on the 2nd or 3rd line, where he would play if everyone were healthy. Plus, he keeps them deep down the middle if Weiss (who not counting the upcoming playoffs, will have only played in 1/3rd (43) of his teams games (130)) continues to battle or injuries and/or struggles when playing (3 goals, 5 assists in those 43 games...).
-Alfredsson - Obviously only if he wants to come back.
-Gustavsson - I'm of the opinion that Mrazek should have one more year in the minors before being thrust into the backup position. IF Gustavsson is willing to accept an affordable deal for another year, then I'd go for it. Problem is, I can see him wanting to go to a team where he could compete to be a starter, or get a large long term offer from a team hoping he has some starter potential. He obviously isn't getting any younger, and is probably well aware that Jimmy is the starter here for the foreseeable future and that Mrazek will be knocking on the door very soon. So, I can see him looking for a better opportunity.
I'm on the fence about:
-Quincey - He has been better as of late, but with 4 regular dmen tied up until 7/1/16 at the earliest and DeKeyser and Smith upcoming RFA's that probably aren't going anywhere, him becoming a UFA is their only option for opening a spot for an upgrade. This is where Kindl's contract is going to shoot Holland in the foot if he doesn't get back to playing like he did last season....
-Bertuzzi - At this point I could take him or leave him, but wouldn't be opposed to him signing cheap (buryable if needed) 1 year deal to be a part time 3rd/4th liner.
They shouldn't re-sign:
-Samuelsson - This should be a no brainer... Flame me, but I was hoping he'd be healthier this season and provide some offense from the 3rd line, but we got more of the same. The writing is pretty much on the wall. We already knew they wanted to use a compliance buyout on him last June and he's been a frequent healthy scratch and even cost the team a massive cap penalty after he was waived. His career is likely over as well.
-Cleary - Re-signing him for this season was obviously a mistake, but I think Holland has realized it now. Before his current injury, he (along with Bertuzzi and Samuelsson) was a healthy scratch for a long period in faver of giving the young guys ice time.
-Emmerton - Not that it's a really big deal, but since he was a regular on the team the previous two seasons and has appeared in a decent chunk of this season, I figured I'd include him. That being said, he has obviously lost his spot as #4/5 center to Glendenning, and Sheahan and a healthy Helm have pushed him even further down the depth chart. Glendenning and Sheahan will obviously be on next years team, which will make the team real deep down the middle (not even counting Legwand). He'd end up playing most (if not all) of the season in GR, taking up a spot for a young guy to develop. Plus, Ferraro is pretty much Emmerton 2.0 and will most likely be competing for the same time with the big club. I can see the Wings not tendering a qualifying offer, so Emmerton can look for an opportunity elsewhere.
2. Yes. As much as I'm a fan of his, I'll be surprised if the team doesn't use their second compliance buyout on Tootoo. He obviously fell out of favor this season, and his cap is what has made him virtually untradeable and able to clear waivers. Going into next season with a glut of waiver exempt forwards and Ferraro, Callahan and Jurco likely vying for spots on the roster, Tootoo will likely be in the same spot. Burying him has cost the team almost a $1M in cap space, and the buyout is the easiest way to avoid it. Whether in the big club or GR, Callahan can fill Tootoos role for a fraction of the cost and no cap penalty, and still has some upside.
I know some will still be begging for it to be used on Franzen, but I just can't see how it could happen. They won't be able to replace his size or production for anywhere near his cap hit.
3. In my opinion, Callahan probably has the best shot to get a regular spot. He's played well above expectations in GR, and adds an element the team doesn't have much of. He's continually improved in GR and probably still has a lot of upside. I think this also makes him worth claiming if he is waived. Ferraro on the other, doesn't seem to add anything different. His game still seems to be a work in progress, and he didn't look as good in his NHL stint as Callahan did. He would also most likely go unclaimed on waivers. Almquist is interesting, but I don't see where he fits in. Unless they make a trade, the only potential opening on D is Quincey becoming a UFA. However if he doesn't re-sign, I can see the team signing another UFA D-man. In either case, the only realistic possibility is that he could beat out and make Lashoff expendable at camp. Given his production this season at the AHL level, Almquist would most likely be claimed by another team if waived.
4. I think Jurco's future is definitely with the big club, but I can see him atleast starting with GR next season. I however don't think Mrazek should be promoted just yet. I worry about what may result if Howard goes down long term with an injury and Mrazek is forced to carry the team. Plus, they'll be slim on depth beyond him. I think they would be better off signing Gustavsson or a UFA goalie for a year, and still having Mrazek in GR. Plus, he'll be cheaper when his entry level deal expires if there are still questions over what he can bring in a full season.
Forwards: I know everyone will be praying for Holland to go after some of the bigger names available (especially Vanek), but I would be OK with the team re-signing Alfredsson and Legwand and going forward with what they've got. Obviously, with a healthy Helm and Weiss, and Tatar, Nyquist, Sheahan, Jurco, Glendenning and Andersson still maturing, they could have a very formidable offense. Holland could try going after Vanek, but as the only real "superstar" forward, he'll be very pricey. Plus, it's been widely speculated that he'll most likely sign with Minnesota this summer. If Alfredsson doesn't return, I wouldn't mind them targeting some short term veteran help up front like Iginla or Jagr. I don't think the team needs to load up on any big long term UFA signings.
Defense: I can only see them going after someone if they don't resign Quincey. I like Niskanen (if he's still available). He's a RH shot, and would add some more offense from the backend that the team has lacked since Lidstrom left. Otherwise, with Kronwall, Ericsson, Kindl and Lashoff locked up for the next couple of years, DeKeyser and Smith most likely in the long term picture, and Almquist, Marchenko, Sproul and Ouellet all likely to be NHL contributors is the next couple of years, I can't see them making any big long term signings on the blueline.
Goal: If Gustavsson doesn't re-sign and they have some cap space, I think they should go after a good starting caliber or 1B goalie for a one year deal. There will be lots of good options for this available: Thomas, Brodeur, Bryzgalov, Elliott, Montoya, Peters, etc. who could fill in for a year before bringing up Mrazek. This will give them someone capable of filling in (as well as Mrazek) if Jimmy gets hurt or struggles, rather than heap the load on Mrazek.