Detroit Red Wings Free Agency Wrap-up
Free agency kicked off July 1st at noon and Detroit was ready to make some moves. With Steven Stamkos announcing he was going to re-sign with Tampa Bay, Detroit had to move to plan B in Frans Nielsen and plan C with Milan Lucic as the rumored list said before free agency started. Detroit made five moves yesterday, re-signing two players and adding three more to the team. Ken Holland said “We’re excited about the day we had, we think we’ve got good depth up front and there’s a good push of young people and we’re looking forward to some good competition for spots in training camp.” Check out the moves Detroit made and what they could do for the team.
Frans Nielsen – C
Detroit got their number two guy after Stamkos in Frans Nielsen. Nielsen is a former alternate captain of the New York Islanders and he has been a solid player for them since 2006. Nielsen has 119 goals and 230 assists for 349 points and a plus 4 rating in the 606 games he has played. Holland said “We feel he’s a 200-foot player, he can play both specialty team situations. He’s good on the shootout and just very responsible. He fits the type of player we look for in Detroit — a quality person.” Nielsen saw an opening to the team once they traded away Datsyuk as he said “Detroit, when it comes to a hockey player, there’s something special about it. With the loss of Datsyuk I saw a good fit for me here. He’s going to be tough to replace, but I saw a chance to come in and play a style of hockey that looks fun from watching from the outside and have a chance to play with some really good young talent.
“It was a hard decision leaving New York, but at the same time I saw an opportunity where I could play the same role I had in New York and play with some really good players. I’m really honored to be part of the Red Wings organization with all the history here.” Nielsen signed a six-year $31.5 million deal, which is a questionable, but good deal at the same time. Nielsen is 32, so seeing him at the same level he is at now for when he will be at 38 is highly unlikely and part of the reason why this contract is questionable. The good thing about it is the amount. Nielsen declined a $5.5 million per year in New York and he took $5.25 in Detroit so he came cheaper than expected. Nielsen will be Detroit’s number two center and someone who will be looking to contribute to the team and help bring a cup back to Detroit.
Thomas Vanek – LW
Another 32 year old coming to Detroit is Thomas Vanek on a one year $2.6 million contract. Vanek has been around the league, playing for Buffalo, New York Islanders, Minnesota, and Montreal. Vanek has scored 316 goals, assisted 333 times for 649 points and a plus 26 rating in his 817 games in the league. He is currently ranked 7th in the NHL in goals since 2005-2006. Vanek is another player who can contribute to the team for scoring as Detroit ranked 23rd in scoring, they will need all the help they can get for it. Ken Holland had this to say about Vanek, “You’re always looking for goals, we’re hoping we’ve got a motivated athlete. There’s always some risk but you have to take some risk if you want to try to get some reward. He’s scored in the league, he shoots right, he can play on the power play.”
Steve Ott – C
The final new player to the team is Steve Ott who signed a one year deal for $880K. Ott isn’t much of a production guy, but he is a bruiser, a big physical guy who can fight, something Detroit needs besides Justin Abdelkader. Ott has 106 goals and 175 assists for 281 points with a whopping -58 rating in the 795 games he has played in. Ott only played in 21 games last year due to having surgery for a torn hamstring. He returned for the playoffs and he said he is completely healthy. Ott also said “I play a hard style of game. I try to compete extremely hard and make others compete. I’ve been in different situations leadership-wise, captain in Buffalo, was an assistant a lot of years in Dallas. I just try to bring my locker room presence as well.” Ott will bring experience and a tough presence to the team as the only hard-hitting guys are Kronwall and Abdelkader and they need some type of guy that will go after someone who targets Larkin, or Zetterberg instead of relying on Abdelkader.
Darren Helm – C
Darren Helm seemed like he would be on his way out of Detroit, but before noon struck yesterday the Red Wings were able to reach a deal for him for five years and $19.25 million. Many fans weren’t happy about the re-signing, not because of Helm as a player, but the contract length and price. Helm apparently took the hometown discount and stuck with the Red Wings. He has 72 goals, 90 assists for 162 years with a plus 10 rating in his 443 games in the NHL. Helm is a quick and speedy center as he probably was the fastest player on the team before Dylan Larkin came in. Helm does have some injury issues, but bringing him back was a good choice as Detroit could still use his speed to their advantage.
Alexy Marchenko – D
The final player that was re-signed yesterday was Alexy Marchenko who signed a two-year deal for $2.9 million. Marchenko played in 66 games and got two goals with nine assists for 11 points and a -5 rating last season. Detroit needs help on the defensive line and with Marchenko coming back that helps them with the defensive line and with a weak defenseman free agency class, Detroit will have to look at a trade if they want to bolster up the defensive front by the time the regular season starts.
Update on the Other RFA’s
We have a small update on Danny DeKeyser and Peter Mrazek on coming back to Detroit. Both have yet to re-sign, but Ken Holland predicts that Detroit will have just under $1 million in cap space once we re-sign the rest of our RFA’s. Both DeKeyser and Mrazek could end up getting $4 million per season which would make Detroit not able to sign anymore free agents. DeKeyser and Mrazek being re-signed would be big for the team as another defenseman locked up and a starting goalie coming back means Detroit just has to reload and they are back in the hunt for the cup.