DETROIT >> With a head coach in place, the Detroit Red Wings can turn their focus on how the roster will look for the 2015-16 season.
And that gets going Tuesday when general manager Ken Holland oversees things during the annual pro scouting meetings, which run to Thursday.
“We’re trying to go younger,” Holland said. “We’re trying to get better and sometimes when you’re dealing with younger people you’ve got to have patience and believe the patience is going to reward you somewhere down the line.”
The Wings’ core – Pavel Datsyuk (36), Henrik Zetterberg (35) and Niklas Kronwall (33) – are getting up there in age.
“There’s no doubt the core group of our team is old, but they’re superstars in their prime,” Holland said. “Those players can last longer. Even as their skills diminish, they may not be superstars, but they’re still good players. That’s what happened with (Steve) Yzerman, (Nicklas) Lidstrom. They could play until they’re 40. We’ve got a core that’s older, but if we can support them with youth, enthusiasm, speed, energy, it allows those players to kind of hold and maintain their status.”
The Wings have 17 players signed for next season with a cap hit of $56 million. This year’s projected cap is around $71 million.
Of the 17 players signed, two – Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss – may not be back because of different issues. Franzen ($3.955 million per year over the next five seasons) because of his concussion issues and Weiss ($4.9 million per year over the next three seasons) having the potential to be bought out.
“I think the way things ended last year when I came back when the season started I wasn’t in the lineup, I was a healthy scratch, sat around for a while,” said Weiss, who has a no-trade clause in his deal. “They told me they were going to put me in and wanted to know if I wanted to go play a couple games in Grand Rapids. I wanted to. I went and did that, came back and got a good opportunity then. Playing with Pav there for a little bit and playing pretty well. And then, for whatever reason, I just fell down the lineup. I wasn’t playing a ton and when you’re not playing a lot it’s tough to do what you’ve always done.”
The buyout period runs June 15-30. Players receive two-thirds of the remaining contract value spread out over twice the remaining length of the deal.
If new coach Jeff Blashill feels Weiss, 32, will help the lineup he’ll be back.
A lot of the remaining cap dollars will have to go to re-sign restricted free agents Brendan Smith, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Jurco, Joakim Andersson, Teemu Pulkkinen and Landon Ferraro.
They also have those in need of extensions next season – unrestricted free agents Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, along with restricted free agents Danny DeKeyser, Petr Mrazek and Riley Sheahan.
Holland said Blashill will have input as well on how the roster will take shape.
“My management philosophy is we’re all in it together and at the end of the day the head coach has to have a voice as we head into the off-season as we make decisions,” Holland said. “He’s behind the bench. I can’t tell somebody ‘we trust you to run the bench but we’re not letting you be involved in any decisions. You’re not qualified to make any decisions.’ That doesn’t make sense.
“Mike Babcock was involved in lots of the decisions,” Holland continued. “Not many decisions went on where he wasn’t totally involved. Some of the decisions he was the leader on, good and bad. When I say bad, I mean decisions that didn’t work out. We’re in it together.”