Tag Archives: ken holland

Wings GM Ken Holland on Tomas Tatar: “His best years are still ahead of him.”

DETROIT >> Tomas Tatar became an every-dayer last season.

And on Monday the Detroit Red Wings forward got paid like one.

Tatar, who was a restricted free agent, signed a three-year deal with an annual salary-cap hit of $2.75 million.

In his first full season in the NHL, Tatar, 23, scored 19 goals, had 20 assists and was a plus-12 in 73 games.

“His best years are still ahead of him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “He plays hard and goes to the hard areas. He’s a very important player on our team.”

Tatar, along with a number of other young forwards, was thrust into the spotlight last season due to the overabundance of injuries the Wings suffered.

“He’s probably one of our top line forwards,” Holland said. “We’d like to roll three lines out there that can score. That’s the way we’ve built our team for a lot of years.

“We need to continue to get offense from a lot of our kids with Tats being one of them,” Holland added.

Tatar, whose salary cap his was $630,000 last season, will still be a restricted free agent when the deal expires in 2017. Players don’t reach unrestricted free agency until the age of 27. Tatar will be 26.

When the season began, Tatar could not find his way into the lineup, playing in just one of the Wings’ first nine games of the season.

“I like him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said at the time. “I think he’s a good player. He’s a very usable player, has a knack for the net. But early going in the season, tie goes to the veteran not to the kid. That’s just life. It’s amazing how that works. We’ll get it worked out.”

Tatar was coming off being named the American Hockey League MVP after leading the Grand Rapids Griffins to win the 2013 Calder Cup, scoring 16 goals to go with five assists in 24 games.

“We couldn’t have done it without them,” Babcock said when asked about how the youngsters helped the club qualify for the postseason for a 23rd consecutive season. “They came here and took jobs, they’re not going anywhere. They’re real good players that keep getting better and will be part of us for a long time.”

Tatar, who was the Wings’ 60th overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, has played 100 games with Detroit, totaling 24 goals and 23 assists.

Defenseman Danny DeKeyser is the lone restricted free agent left to sign and Holland doesn’t see getting a deal done to be a problem prior to training camp.

The Wings now have 14 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies signed to one-way contracts, which brings their payroll close to $64 million, leaving them just over $5 million in cap space. This year’s salary cap is $69 million.

That money will be used to sign DeKeyser and possibly Daniel Alfredsson, who won’t know if he’s returning to the team until a couple weeks before training camp that begins Sept. 18 in Traverse City.

Anthony Mantha has a job with the Detroit Red Wings, if he can take it

DETROIT >> For Anthony Mantha it comes down to one thing: If he wants to make the Detroit Red Wings’ roster this season, he has to beat someone out.

“He’s going to have to beat someone out,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Thursday. “I think everybody has potential, some have more than others. If you don’t live up to that potential it really doesn’t matter.”

And it’s not just one of the 12 forwards Detroit dresses on a nightly basis, but one that’s slotted to be in the top six.

“When we open with Boston (on Oct. 9) and the coach says to me he wants Mantha in the lineup he’s in the lineup,” Holland said. “If he’s in the lineup it’s because basically we think he’s going to be a top six forward. I don’t know we’d put him on the fourth line and play him eight minutes.”

With Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as locks on one of the top two lines, the skaters he’ll have to beat out to make the jump from juniors to the NHL are the likes of Johan Franzen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.

“And does he do something special, bring some ingredients that complement the Zetterbergs and Datsyuks that the coach says to me that we need him to win the first game against Boston and I want him in the lineup,” Holland said. “If that’s not the case, he goes to Grand Rapids and we’ll go through the development process and develop him into that guy.”

Mantha, who’ll turn pro this season, has done all that he could in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League totaling 107 goals and 102 assists over the last two regular seasons, while adding 29 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs.

He also received the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL MVP this past season.

“It appears he can score,” Holland said. “You don’t score as much as he has over the last couple of years. Not many can score as he’s scored in his tier group and he’s produced at the world juniors.”

But playing at that level is much different than playing in the NHL.

“Lots of times in those leagues scores are 5-4 or 6-5, while we play a lot 2-1 and 3-2 games,” Holland said. “So if you don’t score what else do you bring to the table? If you don’t score can you kill a penalty, are you good defensively, can you win physical battles, can you protect the puck down low, can you forecheck and force the defense to make mistakes.

“It’s more than just can you score,” Holland continued. “Unless you can score 80 goals, and nobody scores 80 goals let alone 50 goals.”

The Wings appear ready to give Mantha, won’t turn 20 until September, every opportunity to make the team out of camp.

“I know Mike Babcock wants to give Mantha some opportunities with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, with our best players,” said Holland, who selected Mantha 20th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. “We have eight exhibition games and I know we want him to play five or six. After we’ve watched him play for three weeks and we get to the end of September or early October, he’s got to take somebody’s job.”

Mantha is in Traverse City attending his second development camp that runs through Tuesday.

“They gave us the message to be every-dayers starting last year and that’s what I’m trying to do this year,” Mantha said. “It’s just about being calm, coming out here and doing what I should be doing here. If I’m doing the right things then I’ll get my chance. I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself.”

And he continues exude that level of confidence he did at last year’s training camp.

“I came here last year with that mentality and I’ll go to the main camp with the same mentality because you want to be an NHLer one day in your life, and as soon as that can come I will make every little step that I can do get there,” Mantha said.

Last year, Babcock didn’t take long to burst Mantha’s bubble of making the team out of training camp.

“I don’t want to break the news to him but he ain’t making the team,” Babcock said last training camp. “He’s got to go back to juniors and learn to be an every-dayer. When you compete every day and when you compete on every puck, get strong enough, live it every day and one day you get to play here; in the meantime you get to play juniors or the American League.”

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.

Wings shorten list to Boyle, Niskanen; Ehrhoff wants too many years

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings have one need to address when teams can begin signing free agents at noon Tuesday … a top four defensemen, who’s preferably a right-handed shot.

“We’ve got a couple of specific needs,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said on the eve of when free agents can sign deals. “Free agency is always competitive. It appears to be a little deeper pool than last year, but there are lots of teams in the mix. It’ll be an interesting time.

“I anticipate things will happen fast (Tuesday),” Holland continued. “There should be lots of activity the first four or five hours.”

Detroit’s shopping list for a right-handed blue liner starts at Dan Boyle (New York Islanders), who’ll turn 38 next month, and could be had for a two-deal at around $5.5 million a season.

Boyle could however be looking for a third year on the deal which could be a sticking point or the Wings will meet his demands.

Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) is next on the list.

The 27-year old defenseman is 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.

“(Brendan) Smith can play left or right,” Holland said. “(Jonathan) Ericsson has played the off-side for a number of years, but ideally you’d like to have three left and three right but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

The Wings could get lucky and land both Boyle and Niskanen since they have enough room to fit them under the salary cap.

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), Stephane Robidas (Anaheim) or Tom Gilbert (Florida).

They also could stand pat if Boyle or Niskanen decide to go elsewhere.

From that point it could be a left-handed shot the Wings have to settle for.

Christian Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, has the offensive abilities they’re 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.

Ehrhoff appears to be 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.

“We’ve got seven left-hand D,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I love it but how do you get (a righty)? It’s great to have this fantasy, like Kenny Holland would tell you, there’s no tree. I’ve been all over him but there’s no tree to grab them off of, so we’ll get what we get.”

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

“I just think it’s so much easier when you have a right and lefty on every pair,” Babcock said. “All you’ve got to do is look at L.A., a right and lefty on every pair. It makes it easier to get through the neutral zone. It’s easier off D-zone faceoffs to execute, you have the puck more. You can get it off the wall and shoot it in the offensive zone. To me it just makes sense.”

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).

“We’ll explore the forward market a little bit, but we’ve got 13 forwards and we can send Tomas Jurco to the minors if we wanted to,” Holland said. “We’ll see how Daniel Alfredsson is and where (Anthony) Mantha is in September.”

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

Detroit has $54.2 million tied up in 18 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Tatar and Riley Sheahan.

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

Defenseman Kyle Quincey will 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 appear willing to meet demands to sign Boyle, Niskanen; Ehrhoff wants longer term more than what they want to offer

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings have one need to address when teams can begin signing free agents at noon Tuesday … a top four defensemen, who’s preferably a right-handed shot.

“We’ve got a couple of specific needs,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said on the eve of when free agents can sign deals. “Free agency is always competitive. It appears to be a little deeper pool than last year, but there are lots of teams in the mix. It’ll be an interesting time.

“I anticipate things will happen fast (Tuesday),” Holland continued. “There should be lots of activity the first four or five hours.”

Detroit’s shopping list for a right-handed blue liner starts at Dan Boyle (New York Islanders), who’ll turn 38 next month, and could be had for a two-deal at around $5.5 million a season.

Boyle could however be looking for a third year on the deal which could be a sticking point or the Wings will meet his demands.

Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) is next on the list.

The 27-year old defenseman is 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.

“(Brendan) Smith can play left or right,” Holland said. “(Jonathan) Ericsson has played the off-side for a number of years, but ideally you’d like to have three left and three right but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

The Wings could get lucky and land both Boyle and Niskanen since they have enough room to fit them under the salary cap.

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), Stephane Robidas (Anaheim) or Tom Gilbert (Florida).

They also could stand pat if Boyle or Niskanen decide to go elsewhere.

From that point it could be a left-handed shot the Wings have to settle for.

Christian Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the final seven years of a 10-year deal with Buffalo, has the offensive abilities they’re 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.

Ehrhoff appears to be 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.

“We’ve got seven left-hand D,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I love it but how do you get (a righty)? It’s great to have this fantasy, like Kenny Holland would tell you, there’s no tree. I’ve been all over him but there’s no tree to grab them off of, so we’ll get what we get.”

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

“I just think it’s so much easier when you have a right and lefty on every pair,” Babcock said. “All you’ve got to do is look at L.A., a right and lefty on every pair. It makes it easier to get through the neutral zone. It’s easier off D-zone faceoffs to execute, you have the puck more. You can get it off the wall and shoot it in the offensive zone. To me it just makes sense.”

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).

“We’ll explore the forward market a little bit, but we’ve got 13 forwards and we can send Tomas Jurco to the minors if we wanted to,” Holland said. “We’ll see how Daniel Alfredsson is and where (Anthony) Mantha is in September.”

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

Detroit has $54.2 million tied up in 18 players for next season and still need to sign restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Tatar and Riley Sheahan.

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

Defenseman Kyle Quincey will 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.

Alfredsson and Wings in no hurry to get a deal done; August will be when decision is made according to Holland

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings and Daniel Alfredsson are in no hurry to get a deal done according to general manager Ken Holland.

Holland confirmed via text message that they’ll wait until August before deciding on whether Alfredsson will return for another season in Detroit or retire.

However, Alfredsson and his family will remain in Detroit next season no matter what the final decision is on his career.

When Detroit was eliminated from the playoffs, Alfredsson all but said if he returns for a 19th season he would do so with the Wings.

The only concern seems to be with his back, which caused him to miss a handful of games towards the end of the regular season along with two of the five games in the series with Boston.

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

“At the moment if I come back, that’s the likely scenario (coming back to Detroit),” Alfredsson said after the Wings’ loss in Game 5 to the Bruins. “As a family we’ve had a fabulous time in Detroit. Everybody likes it. That’s check one, I guess.”

His 49 points was tops on the team.

“I think there is promise with this team,” Alfredsson said. “It will probably be some time before I have a decision. When that is, I’m not sure. The sooner the better, I’d like to think.”

When pushed more on whether he would return or not the veteran said, “I really don’t know. There’s a lot of factors that play in, mentally, physically and family. I still love the game, there’s no question about that. At the same time, you’ve got to end it sometime. I’m sure I’ll be talking to my wife and we’ll come to a decision together.”

Alfredsson, 41, signed a one-year worth $3.5 million on the first day of free agency last year, leaving Ottawa where he had spent his entire 17-year career prior. He had been the league’s longest serving captain until the move.

Alfredsson originally said he left Ottawa to join the Wings because he felt Detroit had a better chance at winning the Stanley Cup that has eluded him throughout his career.

Then, during a press conference in Ottawa on Aug. 15, he said the move was aided by a broken promise by the Senators.

Wings set to meet with agents for Niskanen, Boyle and many others Thursday in Philadelphia

DETROIT >> The ability of teams to meet with pending free agents prior to the signing date helped the Wings land Daniel Alfredsson last season.

They hope it helps them land another top free agent, this time a defenseman, when players can finally sign on July 1.

“I like it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “It’s excellent for the players.”

The time to “wine and dine” free agents began Wednesday.

The Wings’ top priority this free agent period is landing a top-four defenseman, one that preferably is a right-handed shot. They would also like to acquire a top-six forward if terms are right.

Defensemen Dan Boyle (New York Islanders) and Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) seem to be the perfect fit and the Wings will meet with their agents Thursday in Philadelphia.

Niskanen, 27, is most likely looking for a lengthy deal, probably a maximum seven years, to sign, which the Wings would be OK with, but they’re not going to break the bank to get him. They may not want to pay him much more annually than what Niklas Kronwall ($4.75 million) is making.

Boyle is older, he’ll turn 38 next month, and reportedly drawing interest from a number of teams, including Toronto and the New York Rangers.

Other possible blue line targets are Anton Stralman (Rangers), Tom Gilbert (Florida) and Stephane Robidas (Anaheim).

“Before you’d get to signing day and the player and team would have to make a decision in like an hour or two,” Holland said. “Now teams have the opportunity to let players know they have interest and to tell them how they would fit in on our team.”

This is the second year of this “pitching” period, which was written into the latest collective bargaining agreement.

But unlike last year, teams can now discuss general parameters of a contract, but they still can’t make an offer or reach any agreement.

“It’s an opportunity to see what’s out there, to talk to players we got some interest in, let them know what we’re thinking,” Holland said. “It’s an opportunity to sell your program.”

Last season the Wings’ pitch to Alfredsson convinced the long-time forward to leave Ottawa where he had spent his entire career and sign with Detroit.

They also did the same to sign Stephen Weiss, who had spent his entire career with the Florida Panthers.

Detroit has close to $54 million tied up in 18 players for next season, which includes the $3 million from bonuses for Alfredsson, Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar that carry over from last season.

With the salary cap projected at nearly $70 million, it’ll leave the Wings close to $16 million to spend, some of which will go to resigning restricted free agents Riley Sheahan, DeKeyser and Tatar.

“Ideally, we’ll make a move on the back end and add one more forward,” Holland said. “We’re going to wait until June 30 to see if we’re going to do anything with our guys.”

Defenseman Kyle Quincey, who’s unrestricted, is expected to hit the open market.

Alfredsson and Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could both re-signed as well.

“Dan Cleary is a guy that when he signed here last year for a one-year deal, we had conversations beyond one year because he had contract offers or three years from a couple of teams,” Holland said last week.

Cleary, 35, struggled last season. In 52 games he totaled four goals, four assists and had a minus-11 rating.

Cleary tried to return from a knee injury he suffered before the Olympic break, but a bad reaction to an injection that he had no side effects two times earlier made his knee inflamed.

“He’s coming off a real tough season,” Holland said. “I know he’s working really hard to try and get some leg strength to give himself the best opportunity he can for a bounce back year.”

Cleary spurned a professional tryout from the Philadelphia Flyers and wound up signing a one-year deal to return to the Wings for $1.75 million on the eve of training camp.

He also shot down a report that he was offered a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season to join the Flyers.

Signing Cleary put the Wings three players over the roster limit and just over $2 million over the salary cap.

Cleary had rejected the Wings’ two- and three-year offers prior to the opening of free agency they moved on and signed Alfredsson (one year, $5.5 million) and Weiss (five years, $24.5 million).

Teams begin first day of sales pitches to free agents

DETROIT >> The ability of teams to meet with pending free agents prior to the signing date helped the Wings land Daniel Alfredsson last season.

They’re hoping it does the same this time around.

“I like it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview. “It’s excellent for the players.”

The time to “wine and dine” free agents began Wednesday. Teams can begin signing players on July 1.

“Before you’d get to signing day and the player and team would have to make a decision in like an hour or two,” Holland said. “Now teams have the opportunity to let players know they have interest and to tell them how they would fit in on our team.

“It’s an opportunity to see what’s out there, to talk to players we got some interest in, let them know what we’re thinking,” Holland added. “It’s an opportunity to sell your program.”

Last season the Wings’ pitch to Alfredsson convinced the long-time forward to leave Ottawa where he had spent his entire career and sign with Detroit.

They also did the same to sign Stephen Weiss, who had spent his entire career with the Florida Panthers.

This is the second year of this “meet and greet” period, which was written into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But unlike last year, teams can now discuss general parameters of a contract, but they still can’t make an offer or reach any agreement.

The Wings’ top priority this free agent period is landing a top-four defenseman, one that preferably is a right-handed shot. They would also like to acquire top-six forward if terms are right.

Defenseman Dan Boyle (New York Islanders) seems to be the perfect fit for the Wings.

Detroit has close to $54 million tied up in 18 players for next season, which includes the $3 million from bonuses for Daniel Alfredsson, Danny DeKeyser and Tomas Tatar that carry over from last season.

With the salary cap projected at nearly $70 million it’ll leave the Wings close to $16 million to spend some of which will go to resigning restricted free agents Riley Sheahan, DeKeyser and Tatar.

“Ideally, we’ll make a move on the back end and add one more forward,” Holland said. “We’re going to wait until June 30 to see if we’re going to do anything with our guys.”

Defenseman Kyle Quincey, who’s unrestricted, is expected to hit the open market.

Alfredsson and Daniel Cleary, who was promised a possible extension after signing a one-year deal on the first day of training camp, could both re-signed as well.

“Dan Cleary is a guy that when he signed here last year for a one-year deal, we had conversations beyond one year because he had contract offers or three years from a couple of teams,” Holland said.

Cleary, 35, struggled last season. In 52 games he totaled four goals, four assists and had a minus-11 rating.

Cleary tried to return from a knee injury he suffered before the Olympic break, but a bad reaction to an injection that he had no side effects two times earlier made his knee inflamed.

“He’s coming off a real tough season,” Holland said. “I know he’s working really hard to try and get some leg strength to give himself the best opportunity he can for a bounce back year.”

Cleary spurned a professional tryout from the Philadelphia Flyers and wound up signing a one-year deal to return to the Wings for $1.75 million on the eve of training camp.

He also shot down a report that he was offered a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season to join the Flyers.

Signing Cleary put the Wings three players over the roster limit and just over $2 million over the salary cap.

Cleary had rejected the Wings’ two- and three-year offers prior to the opening of free agency they moved on and signed Alfredsson (one year, $5.5 million) and Weiss (five years, $24.5 million).