Contrary to popular belief, the NHL season doesn’t end when the Red Wings are eliminated from the playoffs.
In fact there are whopping FOUR teams still playing hockey. It’s true. You can even watch these teams play on the television. It’s amazing!
In fact, if both series go seven games you have a hockey game being played for ten straight nights. And all of those game are on tv! This is crazy! Exclamation Points!!!
You need to watch.
I know you’re still upset from Game 7. I know you’ve been holding on to the shaved hairs of your playoff beard, stuffing them under your pillow as you sleep at night. It’s the only thing you have left. But it’s time to let go.
We’re a mere five months away from the beginning of next season. With a big offseason ahead for the Red Wings, it’s time to start doing your research on potential trade partners and unrestricted free agents. As fan, the offseason is the time where you put aside the fact that you don’t work for the team. You look into potential deals and signings, find the right guys who should come here, and then honestly believe the Red Wings are going to make the move because you think it makes sense.
Each of the four teams still involved in the playoffs have players who “make sense” to be in a Red Wings uniform in 2011-12. Here’s Part 1 of your future Red Wings who are still playing games:
Unrestricted Free Agents: Tomas Kaberle D, Mark Reechi RW, Michael Ryder RW
If Lidstrom retires and the Red Wings don’t resign Ericsson, they’ll have one or two spots open on their six-man defensive unit, depending on what they do with prospect Brendan Smith. So why not add Tomas Kaberle and reload on defense with another guy who has a chance to be a perennial all-star?
Because Kaberle’s not leaving Boston. The Bruins traded a first round pick and prospect Joe Colborne for him. Colborne was Boston’s first round pick in 2008. After trading two first round picks for the guy, letting him go to free agency would be like Gordon Bombay cutting Adam Banks just before the playoffs. Gordon worked so hard to mercilessly rip Banks away from his friends. You don’t just let a talent like that go.
That leaves the forwards. Mark Recchi? Absolutely not. If he comes back, the Red Wings aren’t going to be the team paying for his Medic Alert necklace in case he falls in his house.
That leaves Michael Ryder. He currently makes $4 million, which would may be pretty steep for the Wings but with Modano, Draper, Eaves and Miller all likely gone and Ken Holland figuring out some way to export Hudler back to the KHL, there are some openings up front.
Ryder fills a role. He’s a second/third line, two-wayish (more offensive then defensive) player with some scoring pop (he had 18-23–41). That may have been the vaguest description ever.
I’ve seen him play maybe 8 times, but haven’t really watched him. What do you want me do?
I do know he can win a game in the playoffs. He’s got 4-5–9 in the post-season. His four goals came when he scored two in Game 4 against Montreal (including the overtime winner) and had the final two Boston goals in the Bruins’ 6-5 win over Tampa Bay on Monday. Mr. Clutch.
In case you didn’t know, the Red Wings get every free agent they want. At least in hypothetical situations that have a slim chance of happening. So Michael Ryder, welcome to the D.
(As a bonus he can also be the backup goalie. That’s versatility.)
Going in alphabetical order because the alphabet is awesome and when it’s combined with organization techniques it blows my mind, the Sharks are next.
Unrestricted free agents: Ben Eager LW, Kent Huskins D, Jamal Mayers RW, Scott Nichol D, Niclas Wallin D, Kyle Wellwood C, Ian White D.
The old guys are instantly gone: Mayers, Nichol and Wallin are all 35. I don’t know if you’ve looked the numbers but generally players ranging in ability from sucky to slightly above average all steadily decline towards the sucky range at 36 years old and beyond. As much I would like to see a black guy be on the Red Wings for the first time in my lifetime (correct me if I’m wrong there) Mayers, along with the other two, are old geezers. Cross them off the list.
Speaking of crossing off the list: Ben Eager. Benjamin a big (6-2, 230 lbs) forward who can provide the most toughness the Red Wings have had up front in a while.
On the other hand, he celebrated like he just found Big Foot when he scored a goal to cut Vancouver’s lead to 7-3 yesterday. In the same game he took 20 minutes of penalties. One man took a period’s worth of penalty minutes.
The Red Wings can’t risk he and Abdelkader getting into a competition over who can take the stupidest and most momentum killing penalties. Goodbye Ben.
The other forward left on the board, Kyle Wellwood doesn’t fit the bill either. He’s one injury away from going back to beer leagues. I don’t mean the beer league in hockey. I mean the beer drinking leauges. That’s him in all his beer-belly, its-not-a-six-pack-its-a-keg glory in the picture to your right. That dough-boy body isn’t Red Wings material. His girlfriend’s is though. At least he’s got that going for him.
That leaves us with two defensemen: Huskins (age 31) and White (age 26). Huskins was injured all of the Red Wing series and didn’t play, but some how remained even last night as his team gave up seven goals. White has more offensive pop but has already been traded twice this season (from Calgary to Carolina to San Jose) and makes 1.3 million more than Huskins.
Do you want the old, injured guy or the young guy that none of the teams who are looking for young players want?
As far as I’m concerned, Old Blonde Beard can keep them both. If I had to choose I’d go with White.
Ian, welcome to the club. You’ll probably be in Grand Rapids or traded by December.
(Look for Part Two on Saturday)