I am as pissed off as most Red Wings fans today out of our lack of ability to sign (any) big name free agents, and even more pissed off that our only substantial move was re-signing Kyle Quincey to a contract that pays him as much money as Jonathan Ericsson, more money than Johan Franzen and only 0.5 Million less than Nick Kronwall makes (still a top 10 defenceman in the league).
But as much as we can complain about Quincey, and predict that next season will be a complete disaster - I am seeing more and more tank for McDavid posts - I ask myself when did Matt Niskanen become worthy of a 7 year contract? Isn't Dan Boyle 37 years old coming off a 36 point season on a great team where he was a -8? Why did the world end when we didn't sign these two? Lets just try to use some perspective before we completely turn our backs...
Last season, in a 16 team conference - we finished 1 point behind 6th place PHI and 3 points behind 5th place NYR (who eventually played in the Stanley Cup Final) while having an historically bad (by our standards) record of 5-9 in the shootout. More importantly, we also had our top 3 forwards (when measured by salary) D, Z and Weiss miss 37, 37, and 56 games respectively. I hate to make excuses, but of the 6 teams in our conference that had more points than us last year, not a single one of them could relate to our injury situation (in terms of man games lost to star players). For ex. the top 6 scorers on the Boston Bruins all played in atleast 78 games, and 5 of them played in 80 or more - please don't tell me this would not have helped us or improved our position in the standings.
If we look ahead to next season - what do we have to be optimistic about? Well, we haven't really gotten worse since last year... No we haven't signed any big names either, but we still haven't lost anyone yet. (Alfie remains to be seen). Can you say the same about...
#1 BOSTON - Subtractions: Thornton, Iginla, Meszaros, Moore. Additions: None.
#2 PITTSBURGH - Subtractions: Jokinen, Vitale, Orpik, Glass, Engelland, Niskanen, Conner. Additions: Comeau, Ehrhoff.
#3 TAMPA BAY - Subtractions: Lindback, Aulie, Desjardins. Additions: Nabokov, Boyle, Blunden, Stralman.
#4 MONTREAL - Subtractions: Briere, Gorges, Vanek, Gionta, Blunden, Dubnyk. Additions: Parenteau, Gilbert, Malholtra.
#5 NEW YORK - Subtractions: Pouliot, Stralman, Richards, Boyle, Bickel. Additions: Hunwick, Glass, Kostka, D. Boyle.
#6 PHILADELPHIA - Subtractions: None. Additions: Jones.
The point here is that outside of Tampa Bay, the 5/6 teams that had more points than we did last season have not improved either - and to take it a step further, I certainly feel that Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal, and the NYR have all regressed. In terms of teams within striking distance who have also improved, NJ and WSH certainly stand alone.
When you consider the possibility of a healthy team, the emergence and continued development of our younger players, the cap room and prospect pool we have to acquire pieces (which Holland MUST use at this point) and the lack of improved teams conference wide + number of teams in our division who have taken a step back (BOS, MTL, TOR, OTT,) I don't think the sky is falling as fast as it seems.