Detroit Red Wings: Finalizing the roster

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.

detroit red wings

Alfredsson co-lead the Wings in points with Niklas Kronwall during the 2013-14 regular season with 49 (18 goals and 31 assists).

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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  • Al

    We have to look on the bright side. The Wings have a solid defensive prospect, Ryan Sproul who possesses size (6’4 200 lbs) and a right handed shot. He played 3 yrs in the OHL. In his second yr he was 3rd amongst defenseman in scoring. In his final year in the OHL he finished 1st in scoring and also won Defenseman of the Year award. In his first year with the Griffins he finished with 32 pts in 72 gms. Every year he gets better and better. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a break out year with Grand Rapids and emerges as a top 4 defender within the next 2-3 yrs

  • Ken Holland

    “I can’t see any other scenario that isn’t mention above that would” Should be “mentioned”

    • Alex Eisen

      Thanks, fixed.

  • debeezy

    Dan Clearly won’t be playing in the NHL unless he has a good camp, which is highly unlikely. So, that clears a roster spot.

    • Alex Eisen

      He still holds the roster spot until he is sent down. Yes, he will have to earn his playing time but he will likely be a healthy scratch for a majority of the season instead of being sent down to play in Grand Rapids. Again it’s that whole loyalty thing between Cleary and the Wings.

  • Chris

    I like Daniel Alfredsson, that being said, TT and DD NEED TO BE SIGNED FIRST AND FOREMOST!!! DD, is part of the Defense Corps WE ABSOLUTELY NEED!!! *He is a bright spot in a blackhole of concern…

    • Alex Eisen

      Absolutely. Tatar and DeKeyser deserve to be re-signed. After that it becomes a debate between Alfredsson Vs. Jurco.

  • RedWinger

    Right after the season ended management said they couldn’t go into the next season with the same lineup. They said they needed a right handed top tier defenseman and a top six forward. Many of us were looking forward to seeing at least a couple of major changes in these areas but, obviously, they didn’t happen. Instead, we saw GM’s Yzerman and Nill make shrewd and daring moves to improve their teams while we ended up over-paying Quncey and bringing back a washed up Cleary without making either of the improvements we were told had to be done. Now they are telling us they’ll go with what they have in the system. Why tell your fan base one thing and then make knee-jerk desperation signings when you can’t deliver? Mr. Holland, we think you owe it to your fan base to explain your roster moves in light of what was said right after the playoffs. Your reputation and the organization’s are at stake here.

    • Alex Eisen

      I can give you the simple explanation, the top free agents didn’t want to come to Detroit. So, Holland went with plan B. He panicked and decided to stay with the core from last season. He didn’t know that every free agent he wanted would reject Detroit when he said those comments after the playoffs.