The Detroit Red Wings made a big offer to Zach Parise. They put a very lucrative deal on the table for Ryan Suter, and even flew out to Wisconsin to meet with the former Predators defenseman. And, if we’re to believe past reports, Wings GM Ken Holland tossed a very competitive offer Columbus’ way in an effort to land Rick Nash.
The end result of those pursuits? From Detroit’s perspective, not much, aside from a grumbling fanbase. Parise and Suter joined forces in Minnesota, and Nash was dealt Monday to the Rangers in a five-player, two-draft pick deal.
So, the Red Wings continue to search for answers as they look to reload this offseason. But it’s not for lack of trying.
Fans in Hockeytown have a right to be annoyed at the moment. Nicklas Lidstrom retired, Brad Stuart left via free agency, Jiri Hudler did the same, and a Red Wings team that fell woefully short of its annual Stanley Cup goal last season appears to have taken a step back. That’s a nearly unthinkable and unacceptable reality in Detroit, where playoff berths and titles have become the norm.
And before we take this any further: This is not meant to let Holland and the Wings brass off the hook. As we’ve covered on this site (and extensively on our weekly podcast), the Red Wings knew that Stuart wanted to return to California and that Lidstrom’s playing days were numbered, and yet there didn’t appear to be any real plan ready to replace them in the lineup, save for firing money at Suter.
This is more of a “What are you gonna do?” type of revelation.
Did the Wings back themselves into a corner by not proactively prepping for Lidstrom’s (and, before him, Brian Rafalski’s) retirement? Absolutely. Is the current roster more or less the same one that couldn’t generate any offense in the playoffs, leading Mike Babcock to bemoan a lack of depth up front? You betcha.
But Holland has swung for the fences thrice this offseason — with Parise, Suter and now Nash — and he’s come up empty each time. You know what? It happens.
Maybe not so much in Detroit, which is why it’s jarring and confounding when it does, but it happens. We knew going into this offseason that the free-agent class was an underwhelming one, led by Parise, Suter, Alexander Semin and Shane Doan. It’s hard to imagine there was anything else Detroit could have done to sign Parise or Suter, and Semin and Doan are still on the market.
The Nash trade is another situation entirely. In the end, Columbus shipped Nash, a minor-league defenseman and third-round draft pick to the Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, prospect Tim Erixon and a first-round pick. It looks like far below market value for Nash, at first glance, given the veteran forward’s ability to light the lamp.
We’re not sure what exactly the Wings offered Columbus for Nash, but a package that included Valtteri Filppula, a first-round pick, one of the Wings’ top prospects (say, Tomas Tatar) and another experienced player (Jakub Kindl?) feels possible. Whatever the offer was didn’t matter, because Columbus was hell-bent on avoiding trading Nash within the division to Detroit, where he’d have the chance to haunt his old club several times a year for the next decade or so.
Short of including Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall or Jimmy Howard in the offer to Columbus, there was only so much Holland could do.
That seems to be the theme of the offseason thus far. The Wings are trying to improve their roster — in little bits and pieces, sure, like Jordin Tootoo and Mikael Samuelsson; but, also, in a way that makes Detroit a Cup contender next season.
So far, it has not worked out. Pin all the blame on Holland if you want (and he shouldn’t dodge that spotlight), but in the cases of Parise, Suter and now Nash, there’s nothing the Wings can do but shrug their shoulders and keep looking.