After all the moaning and groaning subsides because the Detroit Red Wings re-signed Daniel Cleary to a 1-year contract this past week, the Red Wings are left with two roster spots and a little over $8 million in cap space. Finalizing the 23-man roster can go a few ways, a majority of them revolving around Daniel Alfredsson.
The soon to be 42-year-old in December, Alfredsson is considering retirement or returning to Detroit to chase that elusive Stanley Cup he has yet to lift above his head. There are also restricted free agents Tomas Tatar and Danny DeKeyser waiting in the wings to be re-signed.
Three guys, two roster spots; who is going to lose out? It all depends on the scenario.
Scenario #1: All 3 Re-signed
The biggest loser is Tomas Jurco. The 21-year-old Slovakian playmaker is on a two-way contract and still has one more year of AHL eligibility. By re-signing Tatar, DeKeyser, and Alfredsson the Wings are over the 23-player limit, forcing Jurco down to the Grand Rapids Griffins because he is the only Red Wing that can freely clear waivers at the start of the season.
This is very similar to the Gustav Nyquist situation the Wings had to face at the start of last season, but with one key exception. Jurco can play 99 NHL games before he can be claimed on waivers, unlike Nyquist who could only play in two games when he was called up last season. This means Jurco can be moved from the AHL to NHL throughout the season. When Nyquist was called up for those first two games last season he had to stay in the NHL because he would have been claimed by another team if he had been put on waivers to be sent back to the Griffins.
Scenario #2: Tatar and DeKeyser Re-Signed
The biggest loser is Daniel Alfredsson. This would mark the end of a great career and the Red Wings are forced to move on without one of their top point getters from a season ago.
Scenario #3: DeKeyser Re-Signed, Tatar Traded
The biggest loser is obviously Tomas Tatar. The emerging energetic forward could get shipped out of Detroit if the Red Wings are willing to give up some of their young prospects to bring in an impact defenseman. Ken Holland has been asking around for possible trade partner but hasn’t found anything that makes sense for the Red Wings. Every team in the NHL knows the Wings are after a defenseman, so they are trying to get the Wings to cough up some of their promising prospects. Reports say everyone is after Tatar and/or Tomas Jurco.
While the asking price is steep, as it stands now the Wings are virtually running out the same lineup that saw them get eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. Hockeytown fans recognize this and many are already considering next season a failure. A trade would at least change things up, but is it worth losing a future asset to the organization?
I’d say no, but I’m not the one making the big bucks to make that decision.
Scenario #4: None of the Above
The biggest loser would be everyone. I can’t see any other scenario that isn’t mentioned above that would help the Red Wings. There aren’t any free agents left on the market that would replace the quality DeKeyser or Tatar can bring to the table. Of course, trading away a few veteran players wouldn’t hurt, but the management is just too loyal for that to be a realistic scenario to consider.
Ironically, loyalty brings us full circle back to the Daniel Cleary re-signing. It seems that is how the Red Wings are operating nowadays: in circles. If Ken Holland and Mike Babcock can’t get this team pointed in the right direction, then it’s only a matter of time before their jobs are on the line. The regular season can’t come soon enough for the two of them to prove that they have made the right offseason moves (or lack of major moves).
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