Too Many Forwards, What Does It Mean?

Something has got to give. The Detroit Red Wings made four signings today, two of which are forwards. This is a strange predicament the Red Wings are in. They have $17 million left in cap space and are still in on the Zach Parise sweepstakes. 

Parise will likely make a decision by tomorrow, but with Jiri Hudler out of the picture, the Red Wings still need a top line winger, which might come in the form of Parise or Alex Semin (or possibly Hudler, although unlikely).

The Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson signings give Detroit 16 forwards under contract, not including Justin Abdelkader, who is a RFA, or Tomas Holmstrom, who is a UFA. 

In a league where you usually dress 12 forwards a game, 16 is too many. Factor in a spot for Abdelkader and a Parise type player, and that's 18 forward spots. What is Ken Holland going to do? 

In years past, he has used the waiver system to send palyers to Grand Rapids. The only problem is that only a few are eligible - Nyquist, Tatar, and Brunner. Mike Babcock has said that Brunner is a top six player, so assume that he'll make the team. If not he can be sent  down. Tatar will probably start in Grand Rapids, but Nyquist should be up with Detroit. 

Some guys on the way out could be Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak. Both had subpar years and have been in the Wings system for a long time. They both seem like borderline fourth liners and no one will want to trade for them. These are the only two guys that will probably get waived.

This also spells the end for Tomas Holmstrom. There isn't room for him, and seeing that he has lost some effectiveness around the net (losing Nick Lidstrom doesn't help) will all but guarantee he gets a tryout and gets cut.

So, without Tatar, Mursak, Emmerton and Holmstrom, the Red Wings still have 14 forwards, and it might be 15 if they land Parise or Semin. It seems to some that the Red Wings are stocking up for a trade, be it Rick Nash, who was mentioned as one of the guys in play today.

In fact, Detroit is one of the last destinations on Nash's radar, including Carolina, New York Rangers and San Jose.

Here is an excerpt from the blog Jacket's Cannon on what it would take to land Nash:


An interesting possibility comes from the Red Wings goaltending situation. With Detroit agreeing to terms earlier today with former Maple Leaf Jonas Gustavsson, they have started to develop a bit of a logjam in net between "The Monster", Jimmy HowardJoey MacDonald, and prospect Petr Mrazek.

Scott Howson had some interest in Gustvasson as a free agent, so he might be an interesting carrot to dangle, but an even more fascinating possibility would be Howard.

If Detroit believes that Gustavsson can shine as a #1 in their system, why not propose a deal that sends Howard to Columbus, particularly since he has just one season left on his current contract? Even better, perhaps propose flipping Steve Mason as part of the package, leaving Columbus with Bob and Jimmy as the tandem? It would go a long way towards fixing one of the team's greatest historical weaknesses.

If Columbus was looking for prospects, I would expect them to look at promising forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, or perhaps to ask for Valtteri Filppula as a proven NHL forward who also would help to balance out the cap hit.

Of course, that type of package still might not erase the mental anguish of Columbus fans, but it might be enough to at least feel that Nash went for what amounted to a solid hockey trade.

While it makes sense, the Red Wings might not want to part with those pieces of the puzzle to land a huge cap hit. Obviously, a deal would only happen if Parise and Semin are off the market and not wearing Red and White.

The other name in play is Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks, who has come out and asked for a trade. Although Philadelphia is his preferred destination, the Flyers would have to give up some young talent, and it probably won't happen. The Red Wings could easily make an offer for Ryan's services.

The point is that the Red Wings will be moving some bodies around. With the log jam up front, they have to.

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