About this time of year, people* start asking me a lot of questions.
“Mike, why are you so blessed with this powerful gift?”
Because I can handle its powers.
“Have you ever been tempted to use your powers for evil?”
All the time. But a wise man once told me, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’
I come to you to respect the wishes of the fictional Uncle Ben. It is my responsibility to give my gift to you, my (possibly fictional) friends. I must share my psychic ability of telling which players on NHL teams still in the playoffs will sign with the Red Wings this offseason.
Last year I told the world, correctly, that Ian White would land in Detroit. (Ignore the part where I say he’ll be in Grand Rapids midway through the season. Oh, and ignore the fact that the other three players mentioned didn’t come close to signing with the Red Wings.)
This season, the Red Wings have a couple of holes: defenseman, pure scorer, depth scorer. Luckily, the conference finalists seem more than willing to help them out. Without further ado, I present the Future Red Wings who are still playing, Part 1. Western Conference addition.
Notable Unrestricted Free Agents: Taylor Pyatt LW, Michal Rozsival D, Shane Doan RW, Daymond Langkow C, Ray Whitney LW, Adrian Aucoin D.
Doan, Langkow, Whitney and Aucoin are all older than those crusty underpants lying under your bed. Cross them off the list.
Pyatt is a 6-foot-4, 228 pound grinder who hasn’t been very good defensively this season, a must for bottom six forwards. A minus on the year, his offensive production has faltered as well, dropping from 31 points in 2010-11 to 19 this season.
But he only makes $1.2 million. Although Pyatt might take a slight raise, it won’t come close to the four year, $20 million contract Rozsival lured a GM into signing in 2008. Rozsival’s cap hit is $5 million this season, more than Kevin Bieksa and just lower than Duncan Keith.
He’s played well, racking up 13 regular-season points and a +8 plus/minus rating, which comes on the heels of a 21 point +6 campaign in 2010-11. But does he deserve to be paid as well as Duncan Keith? No. Will he be paid as well as Duncan Keith?
NHL teams are like workaholic fathers when it comes to free agent defensemen. They hope showering money on the situation makes everything OK. Somebody is going to over pay for Rozsival. It won’t be the Red Wings. They’ll settle with filling their need for scoring from their bottom six forwards.
Taylor Pyatt. Exporting to Detroit.
Los Angeles Kings
Notable Unrestricted Free Agents: Dustin Penner LW, Jarret Stoll C, Colin Fraser C, Trent Hunter RW.
I had Trent Hunter on the Islanders in NHL 2K9. You don’t want him, trust me.
Fraser is basicall a homeless man’s Taylor Pyatt. Nobody buys cubic zirconia when they have the real thing.
So it comes down to two 29-year-old forwards: Pancakes Penner or Jarret Stoll. Penner is probably the more talented, but his season has derailed since hurting his back in the delicious pancake incident.
He followed up a year in which he played just 19 games by putting up just 17 points in 65 games and going -7 this regular season. Penner is damaged goods: a talented guy who could be had at a discount
Stoll on the other hand has played like the bizarre player in the final year of his contract. Instead of peaking and getting a big pay day, he put up just 21 points this season after 43-, 47- and 41-point seasons his first three seasons with the Kings.
So which disappointing forward do the Red Wings want the most?
The Red Wings have $20 million in cap space heading into this offseason. They could say screw it and take them both. Yet, I know Ken Holland likes to limit himself to one disappointing free-agent forward per offseason. I also know his tiebreaker in decisions like these is who has the most pancake-related injuries. Let Detroit be bathed in syrup!
I’ll tackle the Eastern Conference on Monday. No need to thank me. I’m just doing what I’m supposed to.
But, you’re welcome.
*(By people, I mean the imaginary tiny little monsters that live inside my brain.)