Monthly Archives: June 2016

Nielsen, Ladd, others on priority list after Stamkos stays with Tampa Bay

Detroit Red Wings v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One

TAMPA, FL – APRIL 16: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Amalie Arena on April 16, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

DETROIT >> Steven Stamkos isn’t leaving Tampa Bay.

Now the Detroit Red Wings can move onto Plan B when unrestricted free agents can begin signing at noon Friday.

Stamkos signed a maximum eight-year deal for $8.5 million a season to remain with the Lightning. The max length any other team could offer him was seven years, but they could have thrown more money at him.

Neither Stamkos nor his representatives spoke with Wings about the possibility of coming to Detroit.

The next tier of forwards the Wings have interest in include Frans Nielsen, Milan Lucic, Andrew Ladd, Troy Brouwer, Kyle Okposo, Loui Eriksson and Jeff Backes.

“How do I feel going into Friday, July 1, I feel good,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview Wednesday prior to the Stamkos news being announced. “We’ve obviously created some cap space with the trading of (Pavel) Datsyuk.”

On Friday, Detroit traded its first round draft pick (16th overall) and Datsyuk, whose cap hit was $7.5 million, to Arizona for the Coyotes’ 20th and 53rd picks and center Joe Vitale, who will be placed on long-term injured reserve due to a broken orbital bone and concussion.

“If I look at our board we’ve probably got nine or 10 forwards ideally we’d like to sign a couple of forwards over the next week,” Holland said. “Do we get higher end forwards? There’s a star and then there’s probably another five or six good second tier forwards and then there’s a number of NHL forwards, different ages and that bring different things.”

The final tier of forwards includes Darren Helm, who’s expected to test free agency on Friday, Jason Chimera, Dale Weise and Matt Martin.

“Basically Jeff Blashill and I spent all day Monday on the phone in my office, lots of (Tuesday) and a little bit (Wednesday) and in between talking to agents we’re getting a sense for what their clients are thinking and kind of doing our due diligence working our way towards Friday,” Holland said.

The Wings were poised to offer Stamkos a seven-year deal worth $10 million a season or more. Toronto and Buffalo were also expected to aggressively pursue him.

Stamkos would have filled the void left by Datsyuk.

He’s a right-handed sniper that possesses an incredible one-timer and would have come in quite handy on the power play as well as five-on-five play.

In his eight NHL seasons, he has 312 goals – including 60 in 2011-12 – and 562 points in 569 games. Last season, Stamkos had 36 goals and 28 assists in 77 games.

A blood clot near his right collarbone, which required surgery, made him miss all but Tampa Bay’s final playoff game against the eventual Stanley Cup champ Pittsburgh Penguins.

At 26 years old, he would have filled Detroit’s No. 1 center spot and provided a nice one-two punch with Dylan Larkin, who Holland talked after the season about moving to center.

He would have been a perfect piece to add as Detroit readies to open Little Caesars Arena for the 2017-18 season and looks to extend its playoff streak to 26 consecutive seasons.

“We’re trying to work our way through the system,” Holland said. “We set up interviews with many of the players that were going to be on the open market and wanted to make sure we touched base with a lot of the players. We obviously have a priority list and some teams might not even be in this free agency sweepstakes because they’re capped out. We’ll find out through the weekend how it all turns out.”

The Wings have roughly $20 million in cap space with roughly half of that earmarked for resigning their restricted free agents which include Petr Mrazek, Danny DeKeyser, Alexey Marchenko, Teemu Pulkkinen and Ryan Sproul, all of which got qualifying offers on Monday.

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Wings again will take ‘best player available’ in draft

DETROIT >> When it comes to the first couple rounds of the NHL draft of late, the Detroit Red Wings have been of the mindset to select the best player available.

And because of that the team is stocked full of prospects at forward.

This year they’re going into the two-day draft, which begins Friday in Buffalo, with the same mindset, but hoping a defenseman falls to them.

“Somewhere along the line we’d like to start to draft a few more defensemen,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We’ve had lots of forwards who are on the team or coming up and not as many defensemen. If the best player available that’s there is a forward we’ll take him, but somewhere along the line here we have to start to draft some D.”

Detroit has the 16th overall selection in the first round.

“We’re going to take the best player available,” Holland said.

The last defenseman the Wings took in the first round was Brendan Smith, in 2007 with the 27th overall pick.

Last year they nabbed a defenseman in the third round, Vili Saarijarvi.

The highest they’ve taken a defenseman since Smith was when they had two picks in the second round in 2011 and selected Xavier Ouellet (48th overall) and Ryan Sproul (55th overall).

“We’re expecting one of those or maybe two of them to make our team,” Holland said referring to Ouellet and Sproul. “But behind those two guys and Saarijarvi it’s not like we have a lot coming up on the backend as prospects. I’d like to think that between the first couple of picks one would be a defenseman. I could say all that, but both could be forwards.

“We’re trying to draft and develop to get a group of young players to work their way onto our roster that allow us to be competitive,” Holland added. “What’s competitive? Make the playoffs and go on a playoff run. Fortunately we’ve made the playoffs, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to go on a playoff run the last four or five years.”

Holland added that they’d also be willing to move up or move down in the draft.

“The drafting game when you’re dealing with 18-year-old players is not an exact science,” Holland said. “You see that with (Henrik) Zetterberg in the seventh round and (Pavel) Datsyuk in the sixth round. If their draft was held all over again they’d both be top five players in their draft. But certainly higher in the draft in the first round there’s a little more certainty.

“If somebody slides around 12 or 13, I’ve talked to some teams a little bit above us that we may have some interest in trying to move up,” Holland continued. “If we get to our pick and philosophically we think there are a few players that are close and somebody wants to move up we’ll see.”

The Wings have made a couple trades of late to slide back in rounds and have gotten two top prospects in their system.

“That’s how we got Tyler Bertuzzi and we went back two picks and got Anthony Mantha,” Holland said. “It’s like getting a free player.

“The more spins at the wheel the better it is, but if a player slides and we’re excited and we might have to pay the price to move up,” Holland continued. “Right now I’m working the phones and seeing who’s got interest in moving up and down and we’re telling them what we’re thinking so when the draft unfolds you’re ready to go in either direction.”