Jeff Riger: What Now With The Red Wings?
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The Wings have officially started their summer break and by the feeling on Saturday afternoon nobody was too pleased about it. The general mood of “locker clean out” day was that of failed expectations as pretty much every player and coach talked about how good they thought their team was and how they fully expected to be getting ready for the Western Conference Final against the Vancouver Canucks. But they are not, so all the Wings have to do now is train, enjoy the offseason and prepare to try and hoist the cup next season, well that is if they get past the San Jose Sharks.
So what is the future of this team? Who stays and who goes? Who retires and who comes back for another run at a parade down Woodward? Below is how I think this team will look like come next season.
Nick Lidstrom: The Captain is the biggest question this offseason just like he was last offseason as well. Nothing can really be decided until Lidstrom informs the Wings if he will be back or if he (and it is hard to even think about) should choose to retire. I would assume with the season that Lidstrom had, being a Norris Trophy candidate once again and with how good the team will be next season that Nick will be back for another go at things. Lidstrom claims he was not leaning one way or the other when he talked on Saturday but I think when it comes down to crunch time he will decide that he wants to be a Wing for at least another season.
Kris Draper: Draper is an unrestricted free agent now and might have played his last game in a Red Wings uniform. Draper will wait to talk to Ken Holland about his future with the team but he did essentially say on Saturday that it was Detroit or nothing when asked if he would consider suiting up for another franchise? Expect Draper, like Maltby, Chris Chelios and like Steve Yzerman did, to work with the organization in some capacity in upcoming years.
Mike Modano: It seems like Modano will be calling it quits at some point in the off season. The Livonia native was asked about retirement and he said that he is 75% to 25% probably done with his career. Modano is an unrestricted free agent as well.
Chris Osgood: Ozzy did not know what his future held in store on Saturday and claims that he hasn’t thought about it much up until this point. Osgood says he is now 100% healthy and still has the desire to play in the NHL. He like Draper has to wait to talk to Holland but I would expect to see Osgood in a Wings uniform next season. Osgood’s ability to remain a mentor to Jimmy Howard and his abilty to still play should keep the Wings goalie prospects down in Grand Rapids for at least another season.
The Free Agents: Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Johnathon Ericsson, Ruslan Salei and Joey MacDonald are all unrestricted free agents meaning they could leave town if they get better offers then the Wings are willing to tender. I would assume Eaves and Miller would be back next season with slightly better contracts while Salei and MacDonald have more than likely played their last game in Hockey town. Ericsson is comfortable in Detroit but could get a better offer elsewhere considering how big he is and the experience that he already has.
If you are waiting to hear about a player that has not been mentioned above, well then expect to see them next season at the Joe playing for the home team considering all of them have existing contracts with Detroit and the only way they would be gone would be via a trade. Of course that could happen, but I would expect to see a lot of the same guys around next year. And, yes that goes for Jiri Hudler as well.
Watch the videos below of the Red Wings cleaning out their lockers and what they had to say about their futures as well.