Wings invite veteran defensman Aaron Rome for tryout

DETROIT >> Wings general manager Ken Holland confirmed that veteran defenseman Aaron Rome has been invited to training camp for a tryout.

Rome, 30, is a left-handed shot.

“He’s a vet who’s played pro hockey for a number of years,” Holland said during a phone interview.

Rome played 25 games last season with Dallas, registering just one assist and finishing a minus-6.

Rome has also played for Anaheim, Columbus and Vancouver.

In 226 games he’s totaled six goals, 22 assists, a minus-17 and has 185 penalty minutes.

DeKeyser wants to get a deal done so he doesn’t miss any training camp

DETROIT >> Restricted free agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser doesn’t seem the least bit worried that a deal can get done before training camp.

“I think there’s still some time left before camp so obviously I don’t want to miss that, miss anything like that so hopefully we can come to something here pretty soon,” DeKeyser said after taking part in an on-ice workout at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Wings general manager Ken Holland made it seem like the sides weren’t even close on a deal.

“It takes two to make a deal,” Holland said during a phone interview from Traverse City. “We’ve had a number of productive conversations, but there’s none of late.”

DeKeyser confirmed that his representatives haven’t met with Holland in nearly two weeks.

“I think we’re going to talk again this week,” DeKeyser said. “I think a lot of times stuff like this just takes some time so hopefully we get it ironed out soon.

“It’s the start of the season so nobody wants to miss the start of the season and all the guys are pretty much back in town and it’s good to have the team back, it’s good to start practicing again so nobody wants to miss out on that,” DeKeyser added.

Training camp opens in Traverse City on Sept. 19.

In 76 games, DeKeyser has four goals, 20 assists and is a plus-14.

The main sticking point according to Holland is finding “comparable” deals.

DeKeyser, who just completed his first full season in the NHL after the Wings beat out several teams to land the much-sought-after defenseman, made $925,000 a season on his two-year, entry-level deal.

“He doesn’t have a ton of experience,” Holland said. “We’ve explored lots of different options.”

The Wings offered DeKeyser a long-term deal back in June which his camp wasn’t receptive to.

Both sides would like more than a one-year deal.

“We’re still hopeful and optimistic that we can find a solution,” Holland continued. “Time off between talking could be good. It’s important to get a deal done that’s fair for the player and fair for the club.”

DeKeyser, 24, is represented by Pat Morris, who’s the same agent that represents Kyle Quincey, who signed a two-deal this offseason worth $4.25 a season.

“They’re the ones, they talk back and forth with Kenny and they just take my input, I mean it’s not like I’m not involved so I’m involved in it,” DeKeyser said.

The deals aren’t comparable since Quincey was an unrestricted free agent. Morris also hasn’t tried to use Quincey’s deal as leverage in DeKeyser’s negotiations.

The Wings have just over $5 million in cap space left.

DeKeyser, Wings don’t appear close to reaching a deal as start of training camp looms

DETROIT >> Restricted free agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser continues to take part in informal on-ice workouts at Joe Louis Arena with teammates despite not appearing to be close to getting a new deal done.

There appears to be a huge gap between the sides according to Wings general manager Ken Holland.

“It takes two to make a deal,” Holland said during a phone interview as he prepares to watch the Wings’ prospects take part in a tournament in Traverse City. “We’ve had a number of productive conversations, but there’s none of late.”

The two sides have not spoken about a new deal in the last two weeks.

In 76 games, DeKeyser has four goals, 20 assists and is a plus-14.

The main sticking point according to Holland is finding “comparable” deals.

DeKeyser, who just completed his first full season in the NHL after the Wings beat out several teams to land the much-sought-after defenseman, made $925,000 a season on his two-year, entry-level deal.

“He doesn’t have a ton of experience,” Holland said. “We’ve explored lots of different options.”

The Wings offered DeKeyser, 24, a long-term deal back in June which his camp wasn’t receptive to.

Both sides would like more than a one-year deal.

“We’re still hopeful and optimistic that we can find a solution,” Holland continued. “Time off between talking could be good. It’s important to get a deal done that’s fair for the player and fair for the club.”

Training camp opens in Traverse City on Sept. 19.

DeKeyser, 24, is represented by Pat Morris, who’s the same agent that represents Kyle Quincey, who signed a two-deal this offseason worth $4.25 a season.

The deals aren’t comparable since Quincey was an unrestricted free agent. Morris also hasn’t tried to use Quincey’s deal as leverage in DeKeyser’s negotiations.

The Wings have just over $5 million in cap space left.

Alfredsson has yet to skate this week with team after suffering a minor setback

DETROIT >> There’s a reason Daniel Alfredsson hasn’t taken part in any informal on-ice workouts this week … he’s suffered a minor setback.

“If we have to wait a little bit, we will,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s something minor, but at this point he doesn’t want to push it.”

The Wings would like to sign Alfredsson, who has an issue with a nerve in his back, to a one-year deal if he’s healthy, even if it’s just to play between 60-65 games.

Holland said he plans to talk to Alfredsson’s agent again early next week.

“I would love to play, there’s no question, but at the same time you have to listen to your body,” Alfredsson said last week. “I’m hoping that I’ll know within the next week or two weeks.”

Alfredsson could decide to go to camp without a contract in place before deciding on his future.

“If Alfie tells me he feels great and he wants to play hockey then we have to sit down and talk,” Holland said. “If he tells me on the 15th of September, ‘I feel good but you know what I’d like to go to training camp and see a bit more’ then I think we’re going to do it.”

Alfredsson, 41, had 18 goals and 31 assists in 68 regular season games, but didn’t record a point in the postseason.

Helm ready for move from center to wing

DETROIT >> With the abundance of centers on the Wings’ roster, coach Mike Babcock has to move at least one or them to wing.

The early candidate is Darren Helm.

“I’m going to start like that, I think,” Babcock said after watching a number of the Wings’ on-ice workout at Joe Louis Arena. “(I like) his tenacity, pace, heaviness on the puck and because I’ve got to have room for other guys, I think he can help.”

The move to wing also brings Helm a promotion to one of Detroit’s top two lines since Babcock has him skating alongside Pavel Datsyuk.

“To give Pavel that tenacity to help Pav out a little bit,” Babcock said. “Helmer can play down low in the zone too a bit for him. This all depends on (Stephen) Weiss and his situation and how healthy everyone else is. Camp starts the 19th. That’s a chunk of time away.”

Helm said Thursday that Babcock first told him of the move during their end-of-season meetings.

“It’s not a huge shock,” Helm said. “Look around the locker room and we have six or seven NHL center-icemen so someone was going to have to change. And the guys that are coming up are great center-men. It’ll be fun to have a chance to play the wing with one of the best players in the league. I hope to find success, stay there and help this team win.”

Helm isn’t a stranger to playing wing, but it’s not as natural as playing center.

“I need to make sure the pucks on the wall are getting out,” said Helm, who recalled playing wing for one shift in 2010-11 season and roughly 15 games last year. “Besides that there isn’t a whole lot I need to change. Because of the way we play, first guy back in the zone he’s playing low anyway. There will be times where I have to cover the point so that’s another area I’ll need to work on.”

Helm could also use his speed more on the wing.

“Anytime the puck is going up the weak-side wall it’s an opportunity for me to push the pace,” Helm said. “I can open up some space for everyone else and if there are loose pucks I can chase them down. Both positions you have to use your speed at different times. It’s about using your brains and smarts to know when to use it.”

Along with Datsyuk, Helm and Weiss at center, the Wings also have Riley Sheahan, Joakim Andersson and Luke Glendening. Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen can also play center.

“I had a lot of centers for Canada at the Olympics,” Babcock said. “It doesn’t matter. Let’s just play hockey. I tell you what, the forwards, there’s a jam here for players. We’ve got good players. You’ve got a lot of forwards coming at you. She’s open on the back end. There’s a chance to make the team there.”

Babcock has Sheahan centering one of the bottom two lines, while Glendening and Andersson will battle to center the other line.

“(Helm) has a lot of speed and a lot of skill,” Zetterberg said. “I think it will free up Pav a little bit. They really have to worry where No. 43 is on the ice and with Pav’s skill and the way he can pass the puck it could be a good weapon to have.

“The other thing too now that we’re all healthy, we have a lot of center-men,” Zetterberg added. “Everyone can’t play center, so we have to put someone on the wing.”

The Wings’ top four centers that began the season – Datsyuk, Helm, Weiss and Andersson, along with Zetterberg – were all sidelined at once at one point last year.

At training camp, Babcock will have Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Weiss be first-line centers on their respective teams.

Alfredsson’s future with the Detroit Red Wings seems a bit murky

DETROIT >> Daniel Alfredsson’s future with the Detroit Red Wings seems a bit murky.

“I think if I was confident enough after last season that if I would start this season as I did last year I would have signed already,” Alfredsson said Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. “I had some issues with my back throughout the year, but nothing serious until the end when I started getting some tingling in the nerves down the right leg. That’s what worries me more than anything.”

Alfredsson, who has an issue with a nerve in his back, is in town taking part in on-ice workouts with a number of other Wings preparing for training camp.
“I would love to play, there’s no question, but at the same time you have to listen to your body,” Alfredsson said. “I’m hoping that I’ll know within the next week or two weeks. We’ll see.”

Alfredsson said his decision will most likely come before training camp that begins with physicals on Sept. 18.

“We’re going to let Alfie have this week, let have next week and then I’ll see what he thinks,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “If Alfie tells me he feels great and he wants to play hockey then we have to sit down and talk. If he tells me on the 15th of September, ‘I feel good but you know what I’d like to go to training camp and see a bit more’ then I think we’re going to do it.

“He wants to play, that’s why he’s back here,” Holland continued. “He wants to be fair to the Detroit Red Wings. And he wants to put himself through an everyday test and that starts this week.”

Alfredsson, who resumed skating in Sweden before coming back to Detroit, and his family will remain in Detroit next season no matter what the final decision is on his career.

He had 18 goals and 31 assists in 68 regular season games, but didn’t record a point in the postseason.

The nerve issue didn’t start until the end of last season according Alfredsson, who also had a groin and back injury.

“I haven’t experienced a lot of pain with it,” Alfredsson said. “It’s been more with numbness and losing strength in the right leg, which is why you need to put the repetition in to make sure you hold up.”

Alfredsson, 41, added he had surgery roughly three years ago for similar symptoms and afterwards he felt great.

“We don’t want a part-time player, we want a full-time player, so a guy’s got to be healthy, he’s got to be able to skate,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Alfie led our team in scoring last year, without that happening. That’s how good a man he is and that’s how talented he is. But if you start the year injured and you’re 25, you’ve got a chance to finish the year healthy. If you start the year injured and you’re Alfie’s age, the chance of you getting ready to go is a lot harder.”

The Wings have just over $5 million in cap space left and still need to sign restricted free agent defenseman Danny DeKeyser which means Alfredsson will have to take a pay cut after making $5.5 million ($2 million in bonuses) last season.

Detroit has 14 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies signed to one-way contracts.

Holland gets four-year deal keeping him with Wings through 2017-18 season

DETROIT >> Ken Holland is back to having some job security.

Heading into the final year of a contract, plus an option year, Holland has agreed to a four-year extension that will keep him as the Wings’ general manager through the 2017-18 season.

“Ken is regarded as one of the premier executives in the National Hockey League and has been instrumental in the success of the Red Wings over the last two decades,” Wings owner Mike Ilitch said in a statement.

In all 17 seasons in Detroit, the Wings have qualified for the playoffs every season and have won the Stanley Cup three times.

“Marian and I are extremely pleased that he will continue to lead our hockey club over the next four years,” Ilitch continued in the statement. “We feel strongly that stability is key to the success of any organization and having this new agreement in place with Ken is important to the organization and its future.”

Since Holland, 58, took over as general manager in 1997, the Wings have won more games in the regular season (746) and playoffs games (115) than any other franchise.

Holland, who’s been with the organization for the past 31 seasons, began working as a scout before becoming the director of amateur of scouting and then assistant general manager.

Now the focus will be getting coach Mike Babcock signed to an extension.

“We work well together,” Holland said at the end of last season. “He and I we want to go farther.”

Babcock is heading into the final year of a contract that pays him roughly $2 million a season.

“I’m real comfortable with the owner and the manager,” Babcock said at the end of the season. “That’s not a concern for me one bit.

“When you’re at the stage of my career that I am, I’m real comfortable with whatever they want,” Babcock continued. “I want them to be happy. If they’re not happy then I’m not happy. I have no problem. I can go year to year.”

Babcock just wrapped up his ninth season with the Wings after they were eliminated in five games in the first round of playoffs by the Boston Bruins.

It’s the second time in the past three seasons Detroit hasn’t made it out of the first round. They haven’t advanced past the second round the past five postseasons.

Asked if he thought he would talk about a contract extension over the summer Babcock said, “I doubt it. I just told you I’m comfortable. If I was uncomfortable, if this was my gig I’d want an extension, it’s not, I’m good.”

Babcock, 51, set a franchise record this season with his 415th win, passing Scotty Bowman and Jack Adams in the process. He’s led the Wings to a Stanley Cup and a two conference championships.

“I want him back behind the bench,” Holland said. “I respect the job he does for us. I respect his work ethic. I respect the job he did putting the young players into our system and sticking with them. I think if you write down a list of the best coaches in the National Hockey League he’s on that short list. I think many would have him on the top of that list.”

Babcock has also led Canada to two straight Olympic gold medals.

There had been rumors circulating awhile back that Babcock could eventually take over for Red Berenson as the head coach at the University of Michigan.

“I never even thought about it,” Babcock said when asked if he had a few more years in him to coach in Detroit. “My daughter’s going into her grade 12 year. I’m either going to be the coach of the Red Wings or, I haven’t had a talk with Red Berenson yet, either that or I’ll be Red’s assistant coach for a year.

“For sure I’m staying in Detroit,” Babcock added. “I haven’t thought about going anywhere else. I’m real comfortable. I know Scotty Bowman went year to year sometime here and I’m real comfortable with that. I can get a job. I’m not worried about that. The owner has been better than great to me. They do things right. They treat people right. The GM is a driven guy who can’t stand losing and I like to be around ultracompetitive people.”