I was going to make this post after the playoffs ended, but then realized that was stupid. Also, I put it off as long as I could manage, and I need some form of Red Wings hockey in my life again.
We're all freaking out about the off-season and whether Nick Lidstrom will return or not. Putting that slight hiccup aside, let's look at the rest of the team. This is my take on what Ken Holland & co. are going to do this off-season and you all probably have this diagrammed out and hanging above your computer screens, but I'll take a stab at it anyway. So don't shoot me if you don't agree.
[side note for this post: nhlnumbers.com is your best friend.]
The RFAs: Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Mattias Ritola, Derek Meech.
The UFAs: Tomas Holmstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Kirk Maltby, Jason Williams, Brad May, [Nick Lidstrom,] Andreas Lilja, Brett Lebda
Tomas Holmstrom: I've said it before - if Homer doesn't resign, he's retiring. No way in hell is he going to another team. He's a Red Wing through and through. And after the season he just had, he's not going to retire. I say he's back for more around $2mill.
Todd Bertuzzi: Again, this is the player who had my brother screaming, "He's going to have seven points this season!" after the games in Sweden. He was our savior in the middle of the season when we lost our offense. He was flighty for parts of the rest of the season, but he played solid hockey. He and his family have expressed wanting to stay with Detroit. If we can get him for $1.5mill again, I say he's here for at least another year or two.
I know, I know. We want him off our team, but hey. He did what we signed him to do: get 40 points this season and score some timely goals.
Kirk Maltby: Malts, it was said by a friend of mine last year, "I hate Maltby's play during the regular season, but the playoffs come along, and I love him to death." This was also the same friend who, before the fateful Game Seven, said, "Kirk Maltby might have five Stanley Cups. Kirk. Maltby."
Kirk, I love you. But I don't see us re-signing you. Now, we don't dispose of our veterans normally, but sometimes change is necessary. Abdelkader is a good replacement for you. And Patrick Eaves is almost a mirror image of your play right now, slightly cheaper, and he's about fifty years younger, too. ...Or eleven years.
Jason Williams & Brad May: Sorry, guys. You're both gone.
Brett Lebda: Sorry, Brett, but you're gone. You'll always have a special place in my heart since our lunch together, but all you've got going for you is your speed. [and if you're curious on the lunch thing, I was at the Detroit Economic Club Luncheon last year and he was at my table. He's super nice.]
Andreas Lilja: Lils, my laptop is named after you, because I get so freaking frustrated by it. Aside from the second round of the playoffs, since your return, I've actually started to like you. A lot. I say if we can get you for the same price you're at now, $1.25mill, and you promise to work on your play this summer, we'll keep you. Otherwise we're losing another Swede.
It's already been said that Holland's going to try to sign as many of them as he can. Helm and Abdelkader are back, that's no question. And we already re-signed Ritola, who I think will make it into the lineup for a bit next season.
Patrick Eaves will definitely be back, especially if we let Maltby go. Miller wants to stay and he's a good third/fourth liner who can score timely goals. If we can get both of these guys for a similar price, or at least under or around $1mill, they'll both be back.
Meech, on the other hand, is a toss up. I think Meech's position on this team depends on who in the free agent pool of the NHL has interest in the Red Wings. Meech played well this season, I won't deny him that. But he's not a key player.
Maybe closer to July 1, I'll do a post of players we might try to go after. I was going to include my fantasy of Nicklas Backstrom coming to the Red Wings, but he murdered that dream of mine on Monday. Oh well. Maybe in a trade someday.
Ken Holland will work his magic. I have no doubt in that.