DETROIT – After a slow start to the first day of free agency, things really picked up for the Detroit Red Wings as evening drew near.
In less than five minutes, Detroit added a pair of forwards – former Wing Mikael Samuelsson and agitator Jordin Tootoo.
And know the Wings wait on the decisions from unrestricted free agents Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.
“Obviously we’re probably not going to do anything more until we know what’s going on with those two big guys,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview late Sunday. “We’re sort of sitting on a cap situation where if they want to come to us we can’t keep adding.”
According to a source, the Wings have offered Suter a 12-year contract worth $90 million.
“In order to have a possibility of being involved in deals for Suter or Parise if we lose some people we lose some people,” said Holland, who confirmed the team did make formal presentations to the representatives for Suter and Parise. “I’m told we’re a consideration for both of them.”
Samuelsson got a two-year deal worth $3 million a season along with a no-trade clause, while Tootoo got a three-year deal worth $1.9 million per season.
Earlier in the day Detroit signed goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million a season and Swiss sniper Damien Brunner to a one-year, two-way contract.
“We thought we signed some depth and we got some ingredients that we’re excited about adding,” Holland said.
The deals leave the Wings with just over $17 million in cap space.
However, close to $5 million is earmarked for restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Kyle Quincey.
The Wings would like to get Abdelkader to sign a four-year deal at just under $2 million a season, but Quincey could be more difficult to sign at the number they want since he made $3.25 million a year ago. They’re hoping to give him at a modest raise.
If they don’t get one or both of the top two free agents out there the Wings may make a trade sometime this summer.
The signings Sunday more than likely means the end of the road for Tomas Holmstrom and Jiri Hudler in Detroit.
Samuelsson spent four seasons in Detroit before signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Vancouver Canucks, who traded him to the Florida Panthers last season.
“We wanted to keep (Samuelsson) him three years ago but the salary was beyond where we wanted to go,” Holland said. “Samuelsson can replace Hudler.”
Samuelsson helped the Wings to win the Stanley Cup in 2008, recording 13 points in 22 playoff games, including the first two goals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We know him, we like him, he can skate and he’s got some range,” Holland said. “He can play the right point on the power play. He’s got a shot. We’ve had him and he played well for us.”
Samuelsson, who signed a three-year deal with Vancouver in 2009 worth an annual salary of $2.5 million, is also a member of the Triple Gold Club, having won gold medals at the Winter Olympics and World Championships.
Tootoo is an agitator that can also score, which is something the Wings have lacked in their lineup for quite some time.
“We wanted to get some physical play into our game,” Holland said. “We think he’ll provide an element of an edge to our team on the bottom six. We played against Nashville, we know him, he’s physical, he gets under your skin of our players. It’s an ingredient we’ve always talked about.”
Holland made a call to Tootoo’s agent, who also represents Darren Helm, late in the afternoon to see if he was still available.
“We were involved in a lot of different things,” Holland said. “Some of the guys signed elsewhere and some of them are still sitting out there. All our people were here, which was good, and we made a decision that he would be a good fit.”
In 486 NHL games, all with the Nashville Predators, Tootoo has 46 goals, 79 assists and 725 penalty minutes.
“I’ve really grown as a player over the last couple of years,” Tootoo said. “My foundation is being a physical presence but at the same time I know I can contribute offensively. I’ve proven that over the last couple of years but at the same time I still have a lot to work on. With the coaching staff and players Detroit has, it’s been a real experience for me to watch as an opponent.
Tootoo was asked if he was going to help recruit Suter to sign with the Wings.
“For me, it’s a day to celebrate my new beginnings and I’m still soaking it all in,” Tootoo said. “My job is to play hockey at the end of the day. I’m prepared to bring my skills to the Detroit Red Wings.”