Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
The Detroit Red Wings head into the holiday weekend short a few players as we saw the salary cap impact Detroit’s ability to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents. Right winger Marian Hossa, forward Tomas Kopecky, and netminder Ty Conklin signed with other teams shortly after the free agency period began Wednesday afternoon.
Free Agency Update
Hossa and Kopecky both signed with Central Division rival, the Chicago Blackhawks, on July 1 ending a one-year marriage between Hossa and the Wings. Hossa will make $62.8 million over a span of 12 years with the Blackhawks, a number that the Wings simply could not offer. Neither side has ill feelings towards the other as Hossa stated he would have stayed with the Wings if the salary cap wasn’t an issue. GM Ken Holland appreciated Hossa’s sacrifice last year to sign with the Wings so much that he refused to trade away the negotiating rights for Hossa. Instead, he gave Hossa and his agent permission to speak with other teams a week before free agency began. Both sides continued to negotiate, but Holland felt Hossa had earned the right to evaluate his other options and respected the player too much to trade away his negotiating rights. While the Wings hate to see a 40-goal scorer like Hossa leave, Holland knew this day would likely come but believes Detroit still has a strong core in place to make another run for the Stanley Cup.
Shortly after Hossa inked his deal with Chicago, fellow Slovakian Tomas Kopecky signed a contract with the Blackhawks for $1.2 per year for two seasons. Conklin signed a two-year deal with the St. Louis Blues (also in the Central Division) for $2.6 million to back up goaltender Chris Mason. Detroit will look to Jimmy Howard to support Chris Osgood in net this upcoming season.
We all knew that the salary cap would limit the Red Wings this off-season, preventing them from making any big splashes in free agency. GM Ken Holland will work on re-signing forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Jiri Hudler as well as seeing what other options are available for a depth forward or two.
How have fans reacted to Hossa’s signing with another team? Matt at On the Wings thinks Hossa is going to have a tougher time returning to the Stanley Cup finals than if he had stayed with Detroit. Kyle at Babcock’s Death Stare wasn’t surprised to see him go and believes the Wings still have a very strong team even without him. Triple Deke asks why Hossa had to sign with a division rival, but understands him leaving to make more money elsewhere. Forum threads at Lets Go Wings and Red Wings Central offer plenty of opinions from Wings’ fans on the signing.
Steve Yzerman, the executive director of Team Canada and Wings vice president, extended a tryout invitation to Wings forward Dan Cleary. He will be Detroit’s lone representative and one of 25 forwards at the tryout camp for the 2010 Olympic team later this summer.
Detroit defenseman Brian Rafalski also received an invite, but from USA Hockey. He will be one of six Michigan natives attending the camp.
ESPN names Wings a top-five team
ESPN the Magazine released a list containing their ultimate standings of all the teams in the four major pro leagues. The Detroit Red Wings ranked fourth overall (second in the NHL behind only the Carolina Hurricanes). The Wings came out on top in a few of the categories, including fan relations, ownership, and title track (winning). For comparison, Detroit’s other sports teams came in at No. 35 (Tigers), No. 64 (Pistons), and No. 119 (Lions).
Happy Fourth of July
Hockeytown Blog wishes all of our U.S. readers a very happy Fourth of July and we hope everyone enjoys the holiday weekend! We’ll be back on Monday with any free agency updates and other Red Wings news.