DETROIT – Have the Detroit Red Wings lost their luster as the premier destination for free agents wanting at least a fighting chance at winning a Stanley Cup year in and year out?
Wings general manager Ken Holland doesn’t think so.
“I don’t because I field calls,” Holland said. “We might not always be No. 1, but we were one of two teams that Ryan Suter met with.”
The Wings entered the sweepstakes for Suter and prized forward Zach Parise, but lost out to the Minnesota Wild for both players.
Both players got identical 13-year deals worth $98 million from the Wild.
“It used to be in the early 2000s there were seven, eight, nine team in the running for high profile players and now there are 30 for a variety of reasons,” Holland said. “I think people want to look on one or two decisions and make a decision, but I don’t think you can make a decision based on one or two decisions you have to look at the entire scope of what’s going on in the National Hockey League. I think the Detroit Red Wings still have a lot of respect around the league, but that’s me.”
According to a source, Detroit offered Suter a 13-year contract worth $90 million.
“Once you make those types of decisions you’re out of the game for a decade,” Holland said. “We’re not going to have major announcements every year, the league doesn’t work like that. I’m confident that at some point in time, and it might be next year, that the history, the tradition, the commitment of our ownership and the passion of the Red Wing fans is going to all add up to us bringing a player of significance here.”
The only remaining big prize in free agency is Phoenix’s Shane Doan. However, he continues to wait on whether the Coyotes can work out a deal to stay in Phoenix.
“By the end of the day players have to make personal decisions that fit their wants and needs,” Holland said. “If and when he decides he wants to leave Phoenix, I think he’s the type of player that all 30 teams in the league would love to have.”
Detroit has 22 players signed for $53.3 million, with a salary cap of $70.2 million. The signed players include forward Gustav Nyquist and defenseman Brendan Smith, both on two-way deals.
The Wings also have restricted free agents Kyle Quincey and Justin Abdelkader to re-sign.
Quincey, who has an arbitration earning on July 25, made $3.25 million last season.
As for Abdelkader, the Wings would like to sign him to a four-year deal at just under $2 million a season.
That leaves Detroit about $12 million under the salary cap with 24 players, one over the roster limit. And just six of those players are defensemen, which leads to speculation of the Wings trying to work on a trade to sure up the blue line.
“We’re going to try and do some things,” Holland said. “We have some cap space so we’ll see. But it has to be the right fit whether it’s a trade or someone wants to come here. We’re working the phones so we’ll see.
“At the same time we’re in a cap world,” Holland continued. “We’re moving some younger people in. If we’re not moving younger people in we’re going backwards. Brendan Smith has to play. Gustav Nyquist has to have an opportunity. Jimmy Howard is 27. We signed Jonas Gustavsson and he’s 28. Darren Helm is 25. Those players have to be a part of where we’re going.”