By: Scott Anderson
Now that the Wings have been bounced from the Playoffs, everyone is saying to blow the team up, that they’ve become stale. While I agree that as a fan, they have become a little stale and they haven’t advanced past the second round in the last 3 post seasons, I’m not sure “blowing the team up” is really the best option.
First of all, my definition of blowing the team up is probably very different than most people’s definition. In my eyes, if you blew up the team, guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk would be moved, Babcock would be taking his thick mane to another team and Ken Holland and Jim Nill would be split up in the front office. That shouldn’t happen.
The natural attrition of this team may be just the trick to infuse younger players while also allowing for higher priced, experienced veteran players. When all is said and done, the unrestricted free agents on this team may not be back. Hudler, Holmstrom and Stuart are the first three that come to mind. That’s three key starting lineup positions that would account for new skaters. Their exit also brings big cap relief. More cap relief could come in the form of Lidstrom’s contract should he decide that he wants to retire, though I am certainly NOT advocating that.
The Wings also have cap room that they didn’t spend at the trade deadline, so bringing in a couple of high priced free agents is not an impossibility, in fact, it’s a probability. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are the big, big names out there and both would be fantastic in the Winged Wheel. I would offer that Suter is more important than Parise because of his time on ice; he would be a first pair Defenseman and a fixture on the blue line for years. Parise would provide much needed scoring punch and a new flavor to the top line skating alongside Pavel.
The other player’s name I offer up is Phoenix captain Shane Doan; he too is unrestricted and brings with him an enormous amount of grit and toughness. Plus, he has never drunk from the Stanley Cup, so he has that incentive in front of him. At the end of his career, he would come at a much discounted price with so much to prove, that’s a winning combination.
Over the next several weeks as the final games play out, more players will emerge as potential future Wings, but the main focus will be on Suter to see if there are rumblings of a long term deal to re-sign with Nashville. The Preds would be foolish to separate Suter from Weber and Rinne as that’s a triumvirate for success in today’s NHL; the question is for how long? The Red Wings have had the template for success in the NHL for over twenty years and now it’s time to find a new one. Be careful what you wish for though as this year’s Playoffs are telling us that there are many different ways to build a team, but not one sure fired way. If Boston loses Game 7 against the Caps, then the last 4 Champions will have been iced in the first round.