Lidstrom Returns, Roster for Next Season
So he has motivation still.
Nicklas Lidstrom announced today that he will be returning to Detroit for a 20th NHL season. The six time (maybe seven) Norris Trophy winner signed a one year, $6.2 million deal to stay in Detroit one more year. It is the exact same contract he has last season.
He was quoted as saying the biggest issue was whether or not he would find the motivation to keep playing. Apparently he has.
Lidstrom has been a key cog in Detroit's line-up since 1991. Every season he has played with the Winged Wheel on his chest, Detroit has made the playoffs.
He has been nominated for the Norris for the 11th time in 13 seasons. He is up against Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber and is the favourite to win the award again, despite being a minus last season (what do you expect when you play with Jonathan Ericsson?)
This clears up a lot for GM Ken Holland. His offseason plan is now set. He has a few holes on defence, a back-up goalie, and perhaps a top six forward.
I want to take a look at what the roster could look like next season, and it's very different.
Let's start by looking at who Detroit shouldn't want at all:
1. Tomas Kaberle - Kaby has been said to be a good fit for Detroit. Well I disagree 110%. He's soft and one dimensional, and he didn't even bring his one-dimensional game to the playoffs with the Bruins. I don't like signing guys from Championship teams, I think there's a matter of fatigue and motivation to win again.
2. Jonathan Ericsson - I'm sick and tired of people not from Detroit saying Ericsson needs more time to develop. This plug is 27 years old. How long do you want to give him? He just might be the reason Lidstrom was a minus this year. Perfect reason to not keep him. He pinches EVERY time, shoots like a girl and hits with a purse. For a 6'4 guy he plays even softer than Kaberle. Plus he turned down 2 million a year for 5 years! Clearly he has brain damage or thinks he's better than he is. Hopefully Holland doesn't pull the "we owe it to him" crap. He owes it to them to not be a pile of monkey droppings.
3. Bryan McCabe - An aging defensman who just played in Florida. Also used to play for the Leafs. Used to losing. It doesn't add up for me.
4. Ed Jovanovski - Also old as the Bible, I just think he's on the decline. I'd rather Detroit go young and develop some guys.
And here is the huge list of guys I think Detroit needs to try and get:
1. James Wisniewski
Wiz is one of the best defenceman in the free agent market this year. I think he is the total package. He hits, fights, scores, can make passes and joins the rush. What else do you need? I would fork over $3.5-$4 million to get him.
2. Zach Bogosian / Brent Burns
Holland has said he expects to look for trades at the draft. With Bogosian being less than happy with his time in Atlanta and the franchise move to Winnipeg, it could be that he won't want to go or Winnipeg will want some depth. Detroit can trade a couple guys (Filppula, Hudler can be trade bait) for Bogy. He was drafted right behind Drew Doughty. He has the talent to be just as good and can be a lot cheaper. A win for Detroit.
Burns is on this list because I noticed Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher is shopping everyone not named Koivu. Obviously they will need something of decent value in return, and Detroit could give up Flip and Huds plus a draft pick/prospect for him. I think if Detroit gets either of these guys they'll be set on defence when Lidstrom retires next year.
3. Kevin Bieksa / Christian Ehrhoff
The bad thing about being a Stanley Cup finalist is that usually some guys get the boot. I think Bieksa will take a pay cut to stay in Vancouver, but Ehrhoff might be the one to go. Sami Salo is likely going to stay in Van City, so mayeb the Wings can sign the German d-man. He has that Red Wings feel to him. In Bieksa's case, I think he isn't a Wings type player, which is exactly why they need to sign him. He chirps like no tomorrow, and he's a nasty player. Detroit hasn't had a guy like that since Ulf Samuelsson in 1999.
4. Scottie Upshall
Mike Babcock has said he needs a top six forward to take some pressure off the top line. i think Darren Helm can make that jump easily with more playing time and being on a line with a Datsyuk or Zetterberg will definitely help. Upshall is a guy who can replace Helm's spot in the line-up. He's the same mold; speedy with lot's of energy. He can be one of those guys that can get the bench awake and make an impact on the ice.
5. Tomas Fleischmann / Tomas Kopecky
Two former Red Wings. Fleischmann has thrived in Colorado, but he is a UFA now and might leave for money purposes. He was traded to Washington in the Robert Lang trade in 2003/04 and was a highly touted pick by Detroit. He is a potential second line player. but would most likely see third and fourth line time to start. Kopecky has been streaky and lamented by some Chicago fans. He was lights out in the Finals last season against Philly. He has a big frame and is a power forward type player. If Detroit can get him, he will be Bertuzzi's replacement down the road.
6. Josh Harding
With Osgood out of the picture, who pushes Jimmy Howard? Harding certainly made a terrific tandem with Nicklas Backstrom in Minnesota, so I think he will be able to challenge Howard for the starting job as well. Howard can't keep playing 60+ games every year, so Harding can be an admirable backup for Detroit. The fact that he can split time will also add to the lure effect for Harding coming to Detroit.
Jaromir Jagr - it might be worth the shot, but only for a certain amount of the pot
Ty Conklin - played well in Detroit before, so he might be able to do it again
Severin Blindenbacher - Only reason is he has a great last name. Jersey sales would skyrocket. More than a Charlie Furbush Tigers jersey.
THE PERFECT OFFSEASON:
Mike Modano - UFA Retired
Chris Osgood - UFA
Kris Draper - UFA Retired
Jonathan Ericsson - UFA
Brian Rafalski - Retired
Ruslan Salei - UFA
Jiri Hudler - Traded
Valterri Filppula - Traded
James Wisniewski 3.5M - Free Agent Signing
Scottie Upshall 1.5M - Free Agent Signing
Zach Bogosian 3.75M - Traded for Filppula, Hudler, a couple draft picks and a prospect
Jaromir Jagr 1.0M Free Agent Signing
Henrik Zetterberg 6.08M
Pavel Datsyuk 6.7M
Dan Cleary 2.8M
Johan Franzen 3.95M
Todd Bertuzzi 1.93M
Darren Helm 0.91M
Scottie Upshall 1.5M
Patrick Eaves 1.0M
Justin Abdelkader 0.78M
Drew Miller 1.0M
Jaromir Jagr 1.0M
Jan Mursak 0.55M
Cory Emmerton 0.53M - waiver to Grand Rapids
Nicklas Lidstrom 6.2M
Zach Bogosian 3.75M
Niklas Kronwall 3.0M
James Wisniewski 3.5M
Brad Stuart 3.75M
Jakub Kindl 0.88M
Brendan Smith 0.87M
Jimmy Howard 2.25M
Josh Harding 1.0M
Cap Space: 4.0M-ish assuming cap is around 64M.
Could I be dreaming? Most definitely. And there will be more dreaming to come until the 2011-12 season officially begins.