Three out of the four conference finalists are set. I’m not good with fractions but that’s almost half, which means it’s a perfect time to reignite the tradition besides The Masters that is unlike any other: My examination of future Red Wings still alive in the playoffs.
The steps: 1.) Find the free agents-to-be on every team. 2.) Predict which ones will sign with the Red Wings. 3.) Profit.
In 2011 I correctly told the universe Ian White would sign with the Red Wings. Last year— well, we don’t talk about last year.
Today, we’ll examine the Eastern Conference finalists, mainly because we know who they are. The Western Conference will come later in the week. After, you know, Game 7.
Unrestricted free agents: RW Jarome Iginla, LW Brenden Morrow, LW Matt Cooke, RW Pascal Dupuis, RW Craig Adams, D Douglas Murray, D Mark Eaton
The Penguins have just $7.8 million left below the salary cap for next year. They’re going to be letting some people go. It probably won’t be Pascal Dupuis. He just does things. (I know, hard-hitting analysis)
Take Adams and Eaton off the board as well. They’re not worth the Red Wings time. Also Detroit has plenty of players who already fill the role Morrow’s career has regressed to.
Murray, acquired at the trade deadline, is a bruiser. He’s also slow, which makes him a poor fit for the Red Wings system. They have enough guys who stand around and watch in their own zone.
Cooke is 34 years old and could return to Pittsburgh. Iginla is better, 35, and barring him accepting a 60 percent pay cut, won’t be resigned. Nobody expects him to command the $7 million he’s on the books for this year in the free agent market, but Iginla will still be compensated well. Fortunately, the Red Wings have the cap flexibility to do so.
Iginla might not be the complete player he was, but he has 12 points in 11 postseason games for the Penguins. The Red Wings have lacked a pure sniper since the days when Mikael Samuelsson was still structurally sound enough to shoot. Put Iginla in a Red Wings uniform, have Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg feed him the puck and he’ll put up 25 goals for a couple of years before he retires as a Red Wing.
Unrestricted free agents: RW Jaromir Jagr, RW Nathan Horton, LW Jay Pandolfo, D Andrew Ference, D Aaron Johnson, G Anton Khudobin
Jagr could be intriguing, but he fills a similar role as Iginla, and Iginla is younger and better suited for the Red Wings. Pandolfo, Johnson, Khudobin: fart noise. That leaves Ference and Horton.
Ference could be a sturdy veteran addition to the defensemen. While he has been injured in the playoffs, he played every game for the Bruins during the regular season, putting up a +9 plus/minus rating. At 34 years old and not exactly a superstar, my guess is he signs a modest contract with the team he has spent has spent the last six and a half years with in order to end his career there.
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds with a pinch of a scoring touch, 27-year-old Nathan is like a younger Johan Franzen, except with more of a mean streak. He has 15 NHL fights to his credit.
Also like Franzen he’s got a knack for the playoffs. After averaging about a point every two games in the regular season, Horton has 12 points in 12 postseason games this year.
Horton could be the power forward fans want Franzen to be. You could even pair him with Franzen and stick a shifty guy in the middle (Tomas Tatar?) to create a line that just might turn into a force, and wake Franzen up in the process.
It will likely take more than the $4 million the Bruins are currently paying Horton for the Red Wings to nab him, but with the guy in the prime of his career, it might be worth it.