DETROIT — With forwards needing to be moved, the Wings have been in discussions with the Nashville Predators about sending one of them back to his former team.
According to a source, the Wings have had discussions with the Predators about sending forward Jordin Tootoo back to Nashville.
The Wings will have too many forwards and continue to climb over the salary cap once they sign restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson.
Tootoo, 30, has two years left on a deal at $1.9 million a season.
Tootoo played eight seasons in Nashville appearing in 486 games. He registered 46 goals, 79 assists and 825 penalty minutes.
With needing to move a forward or two, the Wings would have difficulty trying to deal Todd Bertuzzi or Mikael Samuelsson because both have no-trade clauses in their deals.
Patrick Eaves is also a candidate to be dealt.
Center Cory Emmerton may need to be held onto if Darren Helm, who played just one game last season due to an injured back, is unable to start or play next season.
Tootoo spent most of the postseason with Detroit, like he did in Nashville two years ago, mainly watching from the pressbox.
Tootoo played in just one of the Wings’ 14 playoff games last season, being a healthy scratch the other 13.
“Playoff hockey is very intense and that’s my kind of game,” Tootoo said after cleaning out his locker at Joe Louis Arena on Friday. “Obviously you’ve got to make sure what you think is the right combination of guys in the lineup to win, and obviously I wasn’t part of that combination. But you never know, guys go down, things happen, there are a lot of ups and downs. Mentally, physically, I was prepared to be thrown into the battle.”
Tootoo was also a healthy scratch in six of the final 23 games in the regular season.
Tootoo played in Detroit’s series opener with Anaheim, totaling just a little over six minutes of ice time in a 3-1 defeat.
“I thought Toots was great for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said at the time. “He did everything we wanted. He was physical, he gave us energy. The type of player he is, he gets way more opportunity early in the season when it’s being silly and then he doesn’t in the end. But I thought he was fantastic for us. We’re thrilled with him. Maybe if you’re on the outside looking it, you say Toots never played, but I thought he was great.”
In his only appearance in the postseason with the Wings he recorded their first penalty of the series for a crosscheck that the Ducks promptly scored on just four seconds into the man advantage.
Tootoo played in just three of the Predators’ playoff games a year ago after coming off a career-high 12 postseason appearances where he registered a career-high six points.
The Wings signed Tootoo this past offseason to a three-year deal worth $1.9 million a year.
He played in 42 of Detroit’s regular season games, registering three goals and five assists to go along with a team-high 78 penalty minutes.
“You come in with the right mindset knowing that you’re going to have a chance to play every night,” Tootoo said after the locker clean out. “I kind of went through this last year with Nashville in the playoffs, not being able to play, but you know, you’ve got to go with what’s put in front of you. Obviously when you’re told that you’re not going to be in the lineup, I’m sure every hockey player can attest to this, it’s not a good feeling. We’re born to be competitive and play with our hearts out, and when you’re told that you’re not going to play it’s tough to swallow. But as a professional you have to be able to handle those situations.”
A move to the Eastern Conference, which is believed to be a more physical league, could open up more playing time for Tootoo next season.
“They know what I bring night in and night out, and obviously next year we’re moving over to the East so there’s going to be a lot of differences,” Tootoo said. “I’ve only played in the Western Conference my whole career, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
“For me, it’s making sure that I’m physically and mentally prepared for training camp and the beginning of the season,” Tootoo added. “I let the business side deal with itself, and I’ve just got to make sure that I’m ready.”
Tootoo led the Wings with eight fighting majors, which was six behind the league leader this season, Tampa Bay’s B.J. Crombeen.
Despite this being a lockout-shortened 48-game regular season, Tootoo registered high most fighting majors since totaling 10 in the 2008-09 season with Nashville.