The NHL Draft is set to kick off in a matter of hours, and Detroit Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland need to make plenty of waves during the day which will set a busy week in motion.
Needing a dramatic move to kick things up, Holland needs to get something noteworthy done this offseason to excite the fan base prior to the team’s move east. With Vincent Lecavalier suddenly on the market and Bobby Ryan reportedly being dangled by the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit needs to think big in a hurry.
Meeting with Lecavalier on Sunday, the Red Wings need to move fast and find out how seriously both parties are interested in combining. Then, if there’s any impasse in talks, they should quickly move on to Ryan. One bigger name is needed this offseason, and Detroit needs to move fast to secure them to avoid having another unfortunate Zach Parise and Ryan Suter moment in 2013.
With Valtteri Filppula reportedly seeking more money than Detroit wants to offer, he should be the next domino to fall. The Red Wings should deal his rights during the draft in order to get anything in return. Then, they should seek to trade Jordin Tootoo or Carlo Colaiacovo during the same time to free up more salary and gain more draft pick assets. Activity should be the theme to close this weekend.
By the time free agency rolls around on July 5, Detroit should have used each of their buyouts, one on Mikael Samuelsson and the other on Todd Bertuzzi in order to free up more useful money. During the opening of the signing period, the team should target Lecavlier first (if each party is interested) or perhaps Bryan Bickell, Nathan Horton or David Clarkson as well. The passive approach isn’t going to get the job done this time around for Holland, and he must be active sooner rather than later this offseason.
So, the Sunday gameplan for Holland in New Jersey should look a little something like this:
1. Meet with Lecavalier, gauge his interest. If there is no concrete agreement or palpable excitement on either side, move onto other available names on the trade market, perhaps Ryan. Dangle and deal players such as Filppula, Colaiacovo, Corey Emmerton or Tootoo to clear salary and gather assets.
2. Decide to use two buyouts on deserving players (perhaps Samuelsson and Bertuzzi) in order to free up more money to spend later in the week.
3. Put early free agency feelers out to Bickell, Clarkson, Horton or Stephen Weiss, which would provide the team with many other solid options up front.
Whether or not that becomes Detroit’s plan, something needs to get done and activity should become the word of the week. The Red Wings have a glut of forwards, plenty of money to spend and plenty of ways to free up additional money. With a full complement of draft picks and momentum coming off a decent playoff run, the team can be major players this offseason and quickly make a bold statement to fans and the league prior to joining the Eastern Conference.
More so than any offseason before, it will be paramount for Holland to make moves quickly in order to finally get that job done for his Red Wings. This season, it should start early during the draft, which has historically been a much calmer time around Detroit.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax