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The NHL kicks off its free agency period at noon today so there is plenty of speculation as to where some Red Wings may be heading (or staying) and what the Wings’ organization plans to do. Detroit may not have a lot of free room under the cap, but the Wings will need to fill some depth spots at forward with the exact number depending on who stays or goes.
Reports out of Sporting News and Sportsnet suggest that star forward Marian Hossa will test free agency today. As of 10:00 a.m. EDT, Hossa had not signed a deal with the Red Wings. According to The Detroit News:
General manager Ken Holland and Hossa’s agent Ritch Winter talked again Tuesday but came to no agreement. Hossa looks like he’ll test free agency.
“It certainly appears that way,” Holland said. “As I’ve said all along, we only have so much cap room. We have players that I’m not interested in losing.”
Both sides appeared to want to re-sign so what went wrong? The Detroit News speculated that Detroit’s offer was around $4-5 million for a long-term deal (possibly 10 years). However Hossa is apparently looking for a higher number per year (ex. $6 million) over long-term and due to the salary cap, the Wings can’t provide that unless they want to dismantle part of their team. If Hossa does not return, he will be one of the top free agents available this afternoon.
Bill at the blog Abel to Yzerman writes that if Hossa does leave for more money with another team, Wings fans should be appreciative for the year he spent in Detroit making less money than he could’ve gotten elsewhere for a chance at the Cup.
Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kopecky
Both players are expected to test free agency, but if Hossa will not gear up in the Winged Wheel next season expect Holland to try to bring Samuelsson back. Sammy made $1.2 million last year, but will likely receive offers well above that after posting 19 markers last year. Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports that Samuelsson will likely leave as he is looking to make a salary jump.
Media reports believe Kopecky will not return.
Jiri Hudler and Ville Leino
Hudler and Leino are both restricted free agents so the only way for either player to leave is if the Wings do not make a qualifying offer (which they have) or if another team makes an offer. That other team would have to give up a draft pick (the round is determined by offer). The Detroit Free Press believes the Wings won’t have to worry about any competing offers with Leino since he didn’t get enough playing time to warrant that type of attention. Hudler could receive other offers, but Holland will try to keep him if Hossa does not return. If the two sides cannot agree on a salary, they will head to arbitration. Ansar Khan at MLive.com reports that Holland believes he’ll be able to find the right salary to make it work.
Holland has spoken to Hudler’s agent, Petr Svoboda, exchanging numbers and discussing comparable players should he file for arbitration by Sunday’s deadline.
“I can’t go spend the money we have set aside for Hudler,” Holland said.
He added, “(Svoboda) told me the area he thinks they’re in. We see things a little differently, but I can’t say we’re dramatically apart. I got an idea of what it’ll take to sign Hudler.”
Who is Leaving
GM Ken Holland has informed four of their free agents that Detroit will not be making them an offer. Defenseman Chris Chelios is hoping to land with an Eastern Conference team this offseason, but admits he has some free-agency jitters. Backup goaltender Ty Conklin cannot stay because of the salary cap and the fact that Jimmy Howard has to pass through waivers now. For those reasons, Howard will be Chris Osgood’s backup to start this season. The St. Louis Blues are believed to be interested in acquiring Conklin.
Enforcer-types Darren McCarty and Aaron Downey will not return according to The Detroit News. If Holland had made an offer, it would have been a two-contract with both players staying primarily in Grand Rapids with the team’s AHL affiliate.
George Malik of Snapshots believes that one more win to snag the Cup would not have altered Detroit’s plans this offseason, including fan favorites like McCarty and Chelios.
Reporters have speculated which players Detroit could target. Due to the salary cap, the Wings will be limited in their options and don’t expect a star player to sign with Detroit (other than Hossa). Holland will look to sign a couple depth players for the third or fourth lines. Ansar Khan of MLive.com has these guys on his list of potential signees:
Some available free-agent forwards include rugged wingers Chris Neil of Ottawa and Ian Laperriere of Colorado and checking centers Samuel Pahlsson of Chicago and John Madden of New Jersey.
Former Red Wings forward Mike Knuble of Philadelphia would provide offense (six consecutive 20-goal seasons) and size (6-foot-3, 230). Lower-priced alternatives include Chad LaRose of Carolina, Mark Parrish of Dallas, and another former Red Wing, Matt Ellis of Buffalo.
We will have a recap of what went down in the opening days of free agency on Friday morning here at Hockeytown Blog.