Weiss heading in right direction after second surgery

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings may have not gotten what they wanted through three days of NHL free agency, but there’s one signee from a year ago they’re still counting on … Stephen Weiss.

Weiss appears heading in the right direction in recovery from a second procedure on April 21 to repair an issue with scar tissue from sports hernia surgery he had on Dec. 23.

“He says he feels great,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “He went on the ice Monday. (Trainer) Piet Van Zant went up to watch him skate and he thought he looked good.”

The Wings targeted Weiss on the first day of free agency last season and landed the center for a hefty five-year deal worth $24.5 million.

Weiss, 31, managed to play just 26 games this season totaling two goals, two assists and a minus-4.

“I told him I only want to hear if there’s a setback,” Holland said. “If I don’t hear from him I’ll assume he’s getting better and better and better. So no news is good news.”

Weiss was the second line center Detroit decided to go after to replace Valtteri Filppula, who had a career-high 25 goals in his first season in Tampa Bay with 33 assists in 75 games.

But Weiss began the season with a hernia and tried to play through it.

“Coming down for the first game of the year and thinking ‘How are you going to get through the game?’ is probably not the right way to start,” Weiss said at the end of last season. “I have to be smarter. It’s not my first year, I’ve been around a bit and should be a little bit smarter and should have spoken up earlier and maybe some of this could have been avoided. But sometimes that’s not my style. I tend to do that and it got me in some trouble. (Last season was) a huge disappointment, but in saying that it kind of fuels the fire for this summer and next year.”

Weiss was cleared in early June to begin working out and will be able to ramp things up over the summer.

“He was going to do a week of skating and then take a week or two off and get back to his routine in late July or early August,” Holland said. “This was sort of a test run.

“Certainly Stephen Weiss was signed to be an important part of our team,” Holland added. “We were looking on him to provide secondary scoring.”

When training camp began, Weiss was slated to center another newcomer, Daniel Alfredsson, and Johan Franzen.

“We were hoping that line would provide us the secondary scoring we needed because this league is hard to score in,” Holland said. “The last two years we haven’t been able to score at the level we feel we have to be to compete at the top of the conference.”

Injuries have been a common occurrence for Weiss, who had scored 20 or more goals four times in his last seven seasons in Florida, missing the final 26 games of the 2012-13 season with a wrist injury.

“He’s had a tough couple of years,” Holland said. “Mike Babcock and I had a great conversation with many of our players about the importance of having a great offseason and coming to camp understanding there’s a competition for ice time and a competition for jobs.

“We think there’s going to be a real competition to be in the lineup every night,” Holland continued. “We just need to stay healthy.”

Weiss was expected to return from the sports hernia surgery right after the Olympic break.

“It’s been a big disappointment, but I don’t know how much I’d change other than being a little smarter in the summer and maybe a little smarter at the start of the season, not trying to play through these types of things as much as I did,” Weiss said. “Even though it was my first year and I wanted to do things the right way, maybe taking a little time off at the start of the season would have done me better than pushing through and trying to be a little bit of a hero that way. So I got myself into some trouble that could have been avoided by being a little bit smarter.”

Red Wings are no longer one of the big fish in a little pond

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings are no longer one of the big fish in a little pond.

If more proof was needed, look at how things have gone through the first two days of NHL free agency.

The Wings went into this period with one major need, a right-handed shooting defenseman, making pitches to a number of them. And once the dust finally settled, they came away with none of them.

“The game has changed,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s free agency and players can go wherever they want.

“We all have the same money,” Holland added. “We made some pitches. Those players chose to go elsewhere.”

The leveling of the playing field is due to a salary cap.

Teams can spend up to the maximum of $69 million and must meet at least a minimum $51 million in payroll.

So the days where there were six big money teams all competing for all the big time guys are over.

“There are 30 teams that are destinations now,” Holland said. “Don’t know the reasons why we weren’t able to get players we targeted. The main reason is the cap.”

Defensemen Dan Boyle, their top priority, and Matt Niskanen both chose to sign with other teams within the Eastern Conference.

Boyle, who turns 38 on July 12, signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers for $9 million instead of a better deal Detroit had on the table, three years at $12.5 million.

Niskanen informed the Wings a couple hours into free agency that they were not on his list of teams he was considering to sign with. He finally chose the Washington Capitals, getting a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million.

Detroit was in the ballpark with its offer, seven years at $38.5 million, for the 27-year old defenseman.

“There are still lots of players out there that could be good one-year bargains,” said Holland, who wound up having to re-sign Kyle Quincey (two years, $8.5 million). “We’ll keep kicking tires. Ideally we’d like to have a right-handed shooting defenseman.”

While their two main right-handed targets on the blue line decided to go elsewhere, the second tier also got deals done with other teams.

Tom Gilbert inked a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens at $5.6 million.

Stephane Robidas chose to take the three-year deal at $3 million offered by Toronto instead of a similar offer the Wings had structured for him, choosing the Maple Leafs for family reasons.

Finally, Anton Stralman was given a five-year deal worth $22.5 million by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The length of a deal turned off the Wings.

“I was hoping to get one and hoping to come up with two,” Holland said. “They signed elsewhere, that’s their prerogative. That’s going to happen more and more with the cap ceiling and floor going up.”

Christian Ehrhoff, a left-handed shot, signed a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Pittsburgh Penguins. A source said Ehrhoff’s agent had told the Wings he was seeking a five-year deal at roughly $5 million a season.

The Wings were never given a second chance by Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, to better the Penguins’ offer.

Ehrhoff said during his introductory press conference that he felt Pittsburgh was the best place for him to win a Stanley Cup.

Holland shrugged off the idea that free agents are not willing to play for Wings coach Mike Babcock, who was behind the bench for Canada’s last two Olympic gold medal-winning efforts.

“I think we’ve got a fabulous coach,” Holland said. “Steve Yzerman has picked him for two Olympic teams and the results speak for themselves.”

With close to $60 million tied up in 20 players for next season, and still in need of signing restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar, the Wings have close to $6 million to spend on other free agents.

“All I can say is we targeted right-handed shot defensemen,” Holland said. “There were a few on the market. We didn’t land one.”

Wings GM Ken Holland: “Other teams are after these players, too. Last year we got the guys wanted.”

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings had high hopes of landing at least one and quite possibly two premier right-handed defensemen on the first day of free agency.

They wound up with neither.

Instead, they ended up having to turn to a familiar face, Kyle Quincey, who Tuesday returned to Detroit for two years at $4.25 million a season.

Quincey, who’s a left-handed shot, struggled in the first half of last season, but finished strong.

He was one of two players to play all 82 games a year ago, totaling four goals and nine assists.

Dan Boyle, their top priority, and Matt Niskanen both chose to sign with other teams within the Eastern Conference.

“We had hoped to sign a right-shooting D-man,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “We made offers, but for a variety of reasons they chose elsewhere to go. That’s the reality of the cap world. There are a lot of reasons why players go in different directions.”

Boyle, who’ll turn 38 next month, signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers for $9 million instead of a better deal Detroit had on the table, three years at $12.5 million.

Niskanen informed the Wings a couple hours into free agency that they were not on the list of teams he was considering and he finally chose the Washington Capitals, getting a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million.

Detroit was in the ballpark with its offer, seven years at $38.5 million, for the 27-year old defenseman.

While their two main right-handed targets on the blue line decided to go elsewhere, the second tier also got deals done with other teams.

Tom Gilbert inked a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens at $5.6 million.

Stephane Robidas chose to take the three-year deal at $3 million offered by Toronto instead of a similar offer the Wings had structured for him, choosing the Maple Leafs for family reasons.

Finally, Anton Stralman was given a five-year deal worth $22.5 million by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The length of a deal turned off the Wings.

“It’s free agency, it’s wide open,” Holland said. “Other teams are after these players, too. Last year we got the guys wanted.”

Christian Ehrhoff was the head scratcher of the afternoon, signing a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Detroit was told by Ehrhoff’s agent that he was seeking a five-year deal at roughly $5 million a season.

The Wings were never given a second chance by Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, to better the Penguins’ offer.

The Wings could now turn to trading for a right-handed defensemen – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien, Edmonton’s Jeff Petry or Toronto’s Cody Franson – but the asking price is quite steep – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco.

Arizona’s Keith Yandle, who’s a left-handed shot, is also rumored to be on the trading block.

“There are still a lot of players out there that could be good one-year bargains,” Holland said. “We’ll keep kicking tires. I was hoping to get one or two right-shot defensemen, but they signed elsewhere, that’s their prerogative. That’s going to happen more and more with the cap ceiling and floor going up.”

Detroit did sign two of its own: Riley Sheahan and Petr Mrazek.

Sheahan, who was a restricted free agent, inked a two-year deal at an average salary cap hit of $950,000.

Mrazek got a one-year extension, taking his deal through the 2015-16 season, at a cap hit of $737,500.

With close to $60 million tied up in 20 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar, the Wings have close to $6 million to spend on other free agents.

Daniel Alfredsson and Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could also be back.

Detroit added depth at center signing Kevin Porter to a two-way deal.

Porter split time last season with the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester of the American Hockey League.

Porter, who played four seasons at the University of Michigan, has also played parts of seasons with Colorado and Phoenix and had 29 goals and 26 assists in 206 games.

He won the Hobey Baker Award in 2008, awarded to the top collegiate player in the NCAA.

Unable to land Boyle, Niskanen, Ehrhoff and Robidas to name a few, Wings settle on Quincey

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings had high hopes of landing at least one and quite possibly two premier right-handed defensemen on the first day of free agency.

They wound up with neither.

Instead, they ended up having to turn to a familiar face, Kyle Quincey, returned to Detroit for two years at $4.25 million a season.

Quincey, who’s a left-handed shot, struggled in the first half of last season, but finished strong.

He was one of two players to play all 82 games a year ago, totaling four goals and nine assists.

Dan Boyle, their top priority, and Matt Niskanen both chose to sign with other teams within the Eastern Conference.

Boyle signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers for $9 million instead of a better deal Detroit had on the table, three years at $12.5 million.

Boyle, who’ll turn 38 next month, was first being offered a two-deal at around $11 million a season.

Niskanen informed the Wings a couple hours into free agency that they were not on the list of teams he was considering to go to and finally chose the Washington Capitals, getting a seven-year deal worth $40.25 million.
Earlier in the day the Capitals signed his former Pittsburgh teammate, Brooks Orpik.

Detroit was in the ballpark with its offer, seven years at $42 million, for the 27-year old defenseman.

Niskanen had a career high in goals (10), assists (36) and plus-minus (plus-33) last season with the Penguins.

While their two main right-handed targets in free agency on the blue line decided to go elsewhere, the second tier also got deals done with other teams.

Tom Gilbert jumped quickly to sign a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens at $5.6 million.

Stephane Robidas fell off the board next. He chose to take the three-year deal at $3 million offered by Toronto instead of a similar offer the Wings had structured for him, choosing the Maple Leafs for family reasons.

Finally, Anton Stralman was given a five-year deal worth $22.5 million by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Christian Ehrhoff was the head scratcher of the afternoon, signing a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Detroit was told by Ehrhoff’s agent that he was seeking a five-year deal at roughly $5 million a season.

The Wings were never given a second chance by Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, to better the Penguins’ offer.

The Wings could now turn to possibly trading for a right-handed defensemen – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers, Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien, Edmonton’s Jeff Petry or Toronto’s Cody Franson – but the asking price is quite steep – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco.

Arizona’s Keith Yandle, who’s a left-handed shot, is also rumored to be on the trading block.

Detroit did sign two of its own … Riley Sheahan and Petr Mrazek.

Sheahan, who was a restricted free agent, inked a two-year deal at an average salary cap hit of $950,000.

Mrazek got a one-year extension, taking his deal through the 2015-16 season, at a cap hit of $737,500.

With close to $60 million tied up in 20 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar, the Wings have close to $6 million to spend on other free agents.

Daniel Alfredsson and Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could also be back.

Detroit added depth at center signing Kevin Porter to a two-way deal.

Porter split time last season with the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester of the American Hockey League.

Porter, who played four seasons at the University of Michigan, has also played parts of seasons with Colorado and Phoenix and had 29 goals and 26 assists in 206 games.

He won the Hobey Baker Award in 2008, awarded to the top collegiate player in the NCAA.

Wings make a free agent signing, but it’s not a blue liner … journeyman Kevin Porter

DETROIT >> According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the have made a minor signing, inking center Kevin Porter to a two-way deal.

He’ll add depth in Grand Rapids.

Porter split time last season with the Buffalo Sabres and Rochester of the American Hockey League.

Porter, who played four seasons at the University of Michigan, has also played parts of seasons with Colorado and Phoenix.

In 206 games he has 29 goals and 26 assists.

He won the Hobey Baker Award in 2008, awarded to the top collegiate player in the NCAA.

Wings lose out on Boyle; out on Niskanen; trade could be next option, but prices are steep

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings had high hopes of landing at least one and quite possibly two premier right-handed defensemen on the first day of free agency.

They wound up with neither.

First, Detroit lost out on Dan Boyle, who signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers for $9 million.

The Wings’ shopping list began with Boyle, who’ll turn 38 next month, and was offering him a two-deal at around $5.5 million a season.

Matt Niskanen was next, but he informed the Wings that they were not on the list of teams he was considering to go to.

The 27-year old defenseman was looking for a lengthy deal at the maximum seven years and possibly in the upwards of $6 million a season to sign.

The Wings were fine with the length of a deal and seemed willing to meet his salary demands.

Originally they didn’t seem willing to pay him much more annually than what Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million) is making.

Niskanen had a career high in goals (10), assists (36) and plus-minus (plus-33) last season with the Penguins.

While their two main right-handed targets on the blue line decided to go elsewhere, the second tier also got deals done with other teams.

Tom Gilbert was first, inking a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens at $5.6 million.

Stephane Robidas fell off the board next, getting three years with the Toronto Maple Leafs at $3 million a season.

Finally, Anton Stralman was given a five-year deal worth $22.5 million by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Wings could now turn to possibly trading for a right-handed defensemen – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers or Arizona’s Keith Yandle – but the asking price is quite steep – Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco.

Christian Ehrhoff didn’t take long to sign a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, had the offensive abilities they were looking for. He’s a premier skater who logs a ton of minutes who can move the puck and likes to join the rush. He can also quarterback the power play.

Detroit thought Ehrhoff was asking for a five-year deal and the Wings are only willing to give him three years at roughly $5 million a season.

Detroit had interest in Ehrhoff in 2011 when Brian Rafalski retired, but didn’t want to overpay him. There was also talk between the teams a couple of times about possibly trading Ehrhoff to the Wings, but Buffalo decided to hang onto him.

Lefty Michael Del Zotto is also out there after being bought out by Nashville.

Detroit did sign two of its own … Riley Sheahan and Petr Mrazek.

Sheahan, who was a restricted free agent, inked a two-year deal at an average salary cap hit of $950,000.

Mrazek got a one-year extension, taking his deal through the 2015-16 season, at a cap hit of $737,500.

The Wings had enough money to sign two high-end blue liners.

Detroit has just over $55 million tied up in 19 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar.

With the salary cap at $69 million for next season that leaves the Wings close to $10 million to spend on other free agents.

Defenseman Kyle Quincey hit the open market.

Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could also be back.

Wings lose out on Boyle, but Niskanen still out there; Ehrhoff inks one-year deal with Pens

DETROIT >> An hour and a half into the start of free agency and all the Detroit Red Wings have signed are two of their own … Riley Sheahan and Petr Mrazek.

Sheahan, who was a restricted free agent, inked a two-year deal at an average salary cap hit of $950,000.

Mrazek got a one-year extension, taking his deal through the 2015-16 season, at a cap hit of $737,500.

Detroit lost out on one of the right-handed shooting defensemen when Dan Boyle signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers for $9 million.

The Wings’ shopping list began with Boyle, who’ll turn 38 next month, and was offering him a two-deal at around $5.5 million a season.

Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) remains out there and his price will continue to go up with the lack of right-handed blue liners in this free agent class.

The 27-year old defenseman was looking for a lengthy deal at the maximum seven years and possibly in the upwards of $6 million a season to sign.

The Wings are fine with the length and they may meet his salary demands when all is said and done.

Originally they didn’t seem willing to pay him much more annually than what Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million) is making.

Niskanen had a career high in goals (10), assists (36) and plus-minus (plus-33) last season with the Penguins.

The Wings, who want their young right-handed defensemen to start the season in Grand Rapids, also could settle on Anton Stralman (New York Rangers) or Stephane Robidas (Anaheim).

Tom Gilbert (Florida) was also a possibility, but he got a two-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens at $5.6 million.

Christian Ehrhoff didn’t take long to sign a one-year deal worth $4 million with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, had the offensive abilities they were looking for. He’s a premier skater who logs a ton of minutes who can move the puck and likes to join the rush. He can also quarterback the power play.

Detroit thought Ehrhoff was asking for a five-year deal and the Wings are only willing to give him three years at roughly $5 million a season.

Detroit had interest in Ehrhoff in 2011 when Brian Rafalski retired, but didn’t want to overpay him. There was also talk between the teams a couple of times about possibly trading Ehrhoff to the Wings, but Buffalo decided to hang onto him.

Lefty Michael Del Zotto (Nashville) was also added to the pool of unrestricted free agents on Monday.

The free agent pool for right-handed defensemen is thin and the asking price via a trade – Buffalo’s Tyler Myers or Arizona’s Keith Yandle – is quite steep (Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco).

The Wings had enough money to sign two high-end blue liners.

Detroit has just over $55 million tied up in 19 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar.

With the salary cap at $69 million for next season that leaves the Wings close to $10 million to spend on other free agents.

Defenseman Kyle Quincey hit the open market.

Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could also be back.