Out with the old and in with the new? Well, out with the old could be taking its course this offseason. The Red Wings were eliminated from playoff contention for the second consecutive year by the San Jose Sharks; although this time they made the series interesting. Going down three games to none, Detroit won three games in a row pushing the Sharks to the limit. They ultimately lost in game seven, however. The Red Wings have some of the best talent in the NHL and some that seems to get better only with age.
Long time Detroit goalie Chris Osgood has called it quits after 17 years. Osgood won three Stanley Cups in his time with the Red Wings. You can make a case that Osgood will make the Hall Of Fame after 17 years and being only the tenth player in history to record 400 wins. Osgood’s departure opens a spot that shall be filled by Ty Conklin. Conklin sports an impressive 91 wins in 200 games with a 2.64 goals against average and a .908 save percentage. However, he will make little impact in fantasy as Jimmy Howard will be the unquestioned number one goalie on a cup-favorite. Joey McDonald also signs on but will probably end up starting at AHL affiliate Grand Rapids in the upcoming season.
The Red Wings retained longtime fan favorite Nicklas Lidstrom, who comes back for another year, and why not? He played in 82 games and posted 16 goals and 46 assists in the 2010-11 season. Lidstrom continues to show he can play with the best the NHL has to offer and all signs indicate that he has plenty left to display. However, there are changes abound with the rest of the blueline personnel. Ruslan Salei left to play in the KHL this season. Brian Rafalski retired this off season leaving a big hole at defense for the Red Wings. To fill that void the Wings went after Ian White, who seems like he has been around a long time and played everywhere. At age 27, he now has a shot to make a big fantasy splash playing in Detroit. White should get plenty of ice time as a top four defenseman. The Wings also signed Mike Commodore to a one-year deal but he will have little impact in fantasy as he will be a stay at home, shut down defenseman. The Wings also re-signed defenseman Jonathan Ericsson to a three-year deal. Ericsson could see the biggest jump in production this year with the departure of Rafalski. Ericsson should be a late round flier in most formats and has the opportunity to produce at the prime age of 27. Don’t forget about Niklas Kronwall, who could be in for a big year with the retirement of Rafalski.
The Red Wings also needed some fine tuning at offense this season. Kris Draper has also announced his retirement, and Mike Modano is still mulling over the possibility of retirement. The Red Wings did re-sign forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, who should have their best years ahead of them. Both are also entering their prime at the age of 27. These third and fourth line guys will be playing in checking and energy lines coming into the season. The Wings made an offer to Jaromir Jagr this offseason, but pulled the offer as it seemed Jagr had no intention to play for Detroit. This could be a good move as Detroit has over $5 million in cap space going into the upcoming season and won’t have to over pay for the 39-year-old veteran.
Detroit still remains one of the top teams in the NHL today. As arguably the most exciting and well-rounded player in the NHL, Pavel Datsyuk should continue his dominance. Datsyuk will also enjoy skating alongside the venerable Henrik Zetterberg.
Two young players who can make an impact in the upcoming season are 22-year-old Brendan Smith and 24 year old Jakub Kindl. Kindl, a 2005 first round draft pick, is not expected to make an immediate impact, but 2007 first round draft pick Smith should get his first taste at the NHL level in the 2011-12 season. With both Niklas Kronwall’s and Brad Stuart’s contracts up after the season, either Kindl or Smith will have a chance to be an everyday player for Detroit. The 2011-12 season looks promising for the Red Wings. Additionally, having over $5 million in cap space puts Detroit in a great position to make a move midseason. Either way, the Red Wings are poised to make a promising run in 2011-12. Utilizing both veteran ability with promising youth, Detroit has shown it can remain a consistent contender year after year. This coming season should be no different.
Have your team’s offseason moves made you pumped for the upcoming season? Are you thinking that you should be your team’s GM instead of the goofball that currently holds that spot? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and he may just hook you up on writing about your team. Or he may just do it himself, if you prefer.