With the energetic and youthful Tomas Tatar re-signing this week to a 3-year deal worth $2.75 million per year, the Detroit Red Wings are left with a little over $5.25 million in cap space and a roster that bolsters no new faces from a season ago.
As the offseason crawls into August the Red Wings are left with two completely different decisions to make before finalizing the roster in October
1. Re-sign Danny DeKeyser.
How is it possibly taking Ken Holland this long to ink DeKeyser to a new deal? This should have been done months ago as DeKeyser is one of the few shining beacons in a defensive core that has struggled since the departure of Hockeytown great Nicklas Lidstrom.
2. What happens with Daniel Alfredsson?
The time has come to find out the verdict on whether or not Alfredsson wants to play this season or hang up the skates for good. He has already made it clear that it’s either another year with the Wings or retirement because his family and kids are settled into the Detroit area. Moving them again isn’t an option for him.
While I did briefly cover the pros and cons of a Daniel Alfredsson return, there are a few stones I left behind that I think could still be turned in order to give the full picture of the Tomas Jurco versus Alfredsson debate. Long story short, if DeKeyser and Alfredsson join the team then Jurco is starting the season in Grand Rapids.
First, it must be said that Alfredsson is holding all the power. If he wants to play, the Red Wings are going to welcome him back with open arms. As they should because he proved with his team-leading 49 points last season that he still has a lot of game left in him.
In fact when you compare any statistical numbers from last regular season Alfredsson beats out Jurco in nearly every category. Given Alfie played in 68 games compared to Jurco’s 36, many of the averages still favor Alfredsson on an 82 games played outcome. The point is Alfredsson isn’t a washed up veteran like most of the guys management let go at the end of this season: Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson,
and Daniel Cleary… it still hurts.
At his current status is Alfredsson better than Jurco? I think so, I would still give a slight edge to Alfredsson. However, bring that question up three months into the season, a year from now, multiple seasons down the road; eventually at some point Jurco becomes the correct answer.
Which brings me to Jurco’s side of the story; he has nothing left to prove in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins: a Calder Cup ring in 2013 followed by a dominating 2014 postseason performance which included a timely hat-trick. Jurco belongs in the NHL so he can develop his strengths and continue his development.
What Red Wings’ fans, myself included, constantly over look in this dilemma is the deciding factor in this decision: injury protection. The Wings want Alfredsson back because not only will he hopefully produce at a high level, but he also allows the management to use Jurco as an injury insurance policy.
We saw it last year with all the injuries. As sad as it is, Pavel Datsuyk, Henrik Zetterberg, and the rest of the gang aren’t getting any younger. Injuries are going to happen. With Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Luke Glendening, and Riley Sheahan getting pulled up, the talent pool to draw from in Grand Rapids is slowly shrinking.
The Red Wings would rather have a somewhat proven talent ready in the AHL to call up when they need help than a guy that’s new to the NHL scene. It happened the same way with Nyquist last season, Hockeytown fans would be foolish to think Ken Holland wouldn’t do the same thing again this time around.
My final verdict: If, and a big if, Alfredsson is healthy and is skating well then give him a final 1-year farewell contract. Simply because even with Alfredsson I don’t have faith in this team to stay healthy enough and Jurco would probably squeeze his way into at least 30 games. That’s at the low end as well, given there is the possibility of more games for Jurco if he earns his way back on the team full-time after his first call up.
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