Tag Archives: wings

Cleary gets one-year deal to remain with Wings, but he’s not guaranteed a roster spot

DETROIT >> Dan Cleary is back with the Detroit Red Wings.

Cleary signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $950,000 on Friday.

He had a goal and an assist in 17 regular season games last season and was a minus-4.

He didn’t appear in the seven-game playoff series with Tampa Bay.

But before all of HockeyTown blows their collective lids … he’s not guaranteed a spot on the roster.

If he’s assigned to Grand Rapids his salary won’t count towards the salary cap.

Prior to signing Cleary, who had a base salary of $1.5 million last season and a $1 million bonus for playing 10 games, the Wings had 24 players there are projected to make the team out of training camp, which was already over the 23-player roster limit.

They were also close to $1 million over the salary cap according to hockeyscap.com.

Detroit does have some wiggle room with the uncertainty health of Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk to begin the season.

Franzen has been taking part in informal practices at Joe Louis Arena, but has yet to receive medical clearance from his latest concussion last season. Datsyuk is still recovering from ankle surgery.

Both players could start the year on long-term injured reserve, which would clear two roster spots and provide salary-cap relief.

Wings lockup Nyquist, a player they’re “building around”, for four years at $19 million

DETROIT >> Gustav Nyquist is one of the players the Detroit Red Wings are building around.

On Friday, the restricted free agent forward cashed in because of that.

Nyquist avoided going to salary arbitration after agreeing to a four-year deal worth $19 million.

“He’s really coming into the prime of his career,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I don’t even know if he’s in his prime yet.

“The next four years will be important years in Gustav Nyquist’s career,” Holland added. “He’s homegrown, developed by us, he’s a good person, he wants to be a Red Wing, wants to be in Detroit.”

The four-year deal, which buys two years of Nyquist’s unrestricted free agency, has an average salary-cap hit at $4.75 million. He will earn $4 million this season, $4.25 million in 2016-17, $5.25 million in 2017-18 and $5.5 million in 2018-19.

In the final two years of the deal, Nyquist, who turns 26 on Sept. 1, has a full no-trade clause.

Nyquist, who was selected by the Wings with the last pick in the fourth round (121st overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, is now the third-highest paid forward on the team behind Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

Nyquist burst onto the scene during the 2013-14 season.

After beginning the year in Grand Rapids because he didn’t have to clear waivers in order to be assigned there, Nyquist was recalled and promptly scored two goals in his first game.

He finished with 28 goals, six of which came on the power play, and 20 assists. He also was a plus-16.

Last season, in 82 games, Nyquist had 27 goals, 27 assists and was a minus-11. Fourteen of his goals were on the power play.

“It’s a league with I think less than 20 players scored 30 goals,” Holland said. “Gus had 28 goals in 57 games two years ago. To get 28 goals once is a nice accomplishment. To do it in back to back years in this league is tremendous.”

Just 15 players reached the 30-goal mark a year ago.

“When I look at what Gus has produced the last two years, you add in his age, and you look around the league, how hard it is to score,” Holland said. “In college and the American League he’s produced offense. We went back and forth and found a solution that got us two years of his unrestricted free agency. It’s a contract that’s fair for the player and the club.”

But like many of the younger Wings, Nyquist has struggled in the postseason.

“As I reflect back through the years on some of our players, it took a while to translate that regular season success into the playoffs,” Holland said. “Last year we had seven-game series, the year before five games, it’s hard to evaluate players on five games and seven games, that’s why you play an 82-game schedule. It gives players and opportunity to show what they can do. You get evaluated on a short body of work (in the playoffs). You need more games to get comfortable to do what you do.”

Nyquist has three goals, four assists and a plus-1 in 30 playoff games.

Pavel Datsyuk also struggled early in his career in the postseason, registering just three goals in his first 42 playoff games.

“Two years ago when we had a lot of people injured he was a key in helping us get into the playoffs,” Holland said. “He’s been through some playoff runs. He’s continued to develop as a player.”

Detroit has 23 players signed, 14 of which are forwards, at just over $71 million.

Once the Wings sign restricted free agent forwards Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen they’ll just be over the $71.4 million salary cap.

Teams can be 10-percent over the salary cap until the day before the season begins, which will give the Wings enough time to decide if Pavel Datsyuk (ankle surgery) and Johan Franzen (concussion) will be able to start the season or head to injured reserve.

Detroit could also free up cap space via a trade or sending a player to Grand Rapids.

“We’ve got to get to camp, let it play itself out and pick a team,” Holland said. “With the additions we made on July 1, we’re a little deeper than last year. We’re hoping for a competitive training camp.”

On the first day of free agency, the Wings added defenseman Mike Green and forward Brad Richards.

Larkin could make Wings’ roster if Blashill wants him

DETROIT >> Dylan Larkin will make the Detroit Red Wings’ roster out of training camp on one condition: if new coach Jeff Blashill wants him in the lineup.

“My take on Larkin would be he’s got to be in our top 12,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Coach Blashill’s got to say to me, ‘I want him in the lineup.’ He’s not going to be our 13th, 14th forward. Realistically, just to put him on the fourth line and play eight minutes, I think he’s a real good young player with a lot of potential.

“He’s going to be real important to our franchise as we go forward,” Holland continued. “We want to make sure we do what’s right for him and us. If he comes and is a legitimate top-nine forward we’re going to find a way to get him in the lineup. If he’s less than that then we’ll sit down as an organization and decide.”
All the speculation began when the Waterford native decided to leave the University of Michigan after one season and sign a three-year entry level contract with the Wings.

After signing the deal he joined the Grand Rapids Griffins, playing on an amateur tryout contract, just in time for their Western Conference finals series with Utica.

In six games he had three goals and two assists under the watchful eye of Blashill.

“I thought he did a great job,” Blashill said of Larkin’s stint with the Griffins. “I think sometimes with a young player you look at them and get excited about what they could be and you see that potential. With him I thought he stepped right in our lineup and helped us win hockey games at the toughest moment with only three teams left in the American Hockey League. There were lots of guys that will play in the NHL on that ice so I thought he did a great job.

“It’s a tiny sample size,” Blashill continued. “He’s seemed to have passed all the tests in terms of small sample sizes, the World Championships, World Juniors, his freshman year at Michigan. He’s going to be a real good player, we’ll see when.”

Larkin, who slipped to Detroit at 15th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, is regarded as the Wings’ top prospect, even ahead of Anthony Mantha, who struggled his first year as a pro in Grand Rapids.

“I still have a lot of work to do and still have a lot of hockey to play so I’m just trying to focus on the development camp and get better for the training camp,” Larkin said. “I think I want to make the jump. I signed for a chance to play in the NHL and after my time in Grand Rapids, I’m more than comfortable spending time there. The coaches they brought in and the players we have we’re going to have a good team again.”

Larkin, who’s a two-way center, was the unanimous winner of the Big Ten’s freshman of the year award, leading the conference’s first-year players in goals (15), assists (32) and points (47) in 35 games with the Wolverines. He also was a plus-18.

He also led Michigan with 15 power play points (six goals) and with 151 shots on goal.

At the World Juniors, he led Team USA in goals (five), points (seven) and tied in plus-minus (plus-seven) in five games, which helped Larkin earn a spot on the U.S. World Championship roster, where he had an assist in 10 games.

“We’ll see in camp how ready he is to make an impact,” Blashill said. “Like Ken said, can you make an impact? If you can make an impact and make our team better that’s great. If we’re not convinced of that then let’s let him continue to grow as a player so when he does come here he can make an impact right away. I think everybody saw that happen with Gustav Nyquist. That’s a great example of a guy, people said he should have been up early, I don’t know, all I know is when he came up he made an immediate impact and continues to so I think that’s the right formula.”

Larkin, who is very competitive and plays a 200-foot game, back checks hard and is conscientious defensively, won’t be disappointed if the team decides to have him play a full season with the Griffins.

“I think Grand Rapids, if I’m there for the whole year or most of the year or however long, I’ll develop better with the younger group of guys and the new coach that I’ve heard great things about,” said Larkin, who doesn’t turn 19 until July 30. “I think I need to get stronger. I think every player can always get stronger in the weight room and physically stronger. You can always be better in the defensive zone. That’s something I’m working on, faceoffs and little details.”

Will the Wings retire No. 91?

DETROIT >> Let the debate begin.

That debate being, should the Detroit Red Wings retire No. 91.

And it all began with the signing for unrestricted free agent Brad Richards, who wore No. 91 his only season with the Chicago Blackhawks.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said when asked if Richards would wear No. 91. “You’re a step ahead of me.”

The only Wings player to wear No. 91 is Sergei Fedorov, who was just named, along with Nicklas Lidstrom, to the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class.

“Jimmy D, Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and at the appropriate time I’ll weigh in, whether his number should be in the rafters or not,” Holland said. “Certainly being selected to go in the Hall of Fame is an incredible accomplishment. He was a great player and a great Red Wing. So it’s certainly worth serious consideration.”
Lidstrom had his No. 5 retired last season by the Wings after spending all 20 seasons of his career in Detroit.

Richards wore No. 19 for the longest time, including his three seasons with the New York Rangers before having his contract bought out. He wore No. 91 with the Dallas Stars.

No. 19 is already retired by the Wings.

“I don’t want to gauge it, but we’re certainly going to have that conversation,” Holland said. “I’m not sure when we’re going to have that conversation. I think at the tail end of his career we tried to re-sign him and it didn’t work out and he ended up leaving.”

The Wings selected Fedorov in the fourth round (74th overall) in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

He was as versatile as they come, being able to play wing, center and on the blue line.

Yzerman called Fedorov the “best skater” he had ever seen.

Fedorov won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1993-94, after racking up 56 goals and 120 points. He won the Selke Trophy twice, handed out to the league’s top defensive forward (1994 and 1996), and was part of three Cup-winning clubs in Detroit.

The first road block occurred when Fedorov, a restricted free agent at the time, had a lengthy holdout to start the 1997-98 season. He signed a six-year offer sheet with the Carolina Hurricanes worth $38 million.

The Wings matched it and because of the wording in the offer sheet Fedorov made $28 million that first year of the deal.

Fedorov finally left Detroit after signing a mega free agent offer sheet with Anaheim in 2003. He turned down four- and five-year offers by the Wings worth $10 million a season.

And the fans made him hear their disappointment as every time he touched the puck when he returned to Joe Louis Arena he was booed heavily.

“I don’t know, we’ve never talked about it,” Holland said if that would be a sticking point. “All I’m saying is he had a great career, he’s going into the Hockey Hall of Fame. At the
end of his career he left. It’s a little easier to make the decision when the player plays 20 years for you and he retires and it’s Steve Yzerman, who’s the captain and it’s Nick Lidstrom, who’s one of the greatest defenseman that ever played the game with seven Norris Trophies. Those are decisions that I think get made very quickly.

“In Sergei’s case, at the end of his career I think he left,” Holland continued. “Is that going to factor in? I think part of the reason we put players’ jerseys in the rafters is because of what they accomplished for the Detroit Red Wings. I think if we start just putting jerseys up there – if you think about the ’02 team, we could start putting jerseys up there every year. But many of those great careers were elsewhere. They came here for a very short period of time.”

He’s one of nine players from the Wings’ 2002 team in the Hall of Fame – Lidstrom (2015); Igor Larionov (2008); Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009); Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) and Dominik Hasek (2014).

With the Wings, Fedorov finished with 400 goals and 954 points – fourth and fifth, respectively, on the franchise list.

“I think we’ve got to factor in and look at what they accomplished in a Red Wings jersey versus what they accomplished in their careers,” Holland said. “I think it’s a long answer to say you take a little bit of time to make sure. Those jerseys that go in the rafters are incredibly special. He’s certainly somebody that will be discussed and talked about but we haven’t got to that decision yet and I really don’t have an answer for you why.”

Fedorov’s career took a downturn from that point and had five undistinguished seasons with Anaheim, Columbus and Washington before finishing his career in his native Russia.

Wings lean ‘right,’ but not at any cost as free agency set to open Wednesday

DETROIT >> The Detroit Red Wings’ free agency shopping list hasn’t changed from a season ago.

The only thing different is that the pool of potential fits to fill those needs is much smaller, which should make the end result the same … the Wings re-signing the players within their organization.

“If we don’t do anything I’m satisfied heading into the season,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said during a phone interview. “We probably have interest on the market of guys that are shorter term rather than longer term, depending who they are.

“Our young players are going to be our future and are going to work their way into the lineup and allow us to be competitive,” Holland added.

The Wings are still looking to add a right-handed shot defenseman — there are only 28 unrestricted ones available — that can quarterback the power play.

The top one available is Mike Green (Capitals), but he’s most likely looking for a long-term deal worth at least $6 million a season.

Green, 29, can run a power play and pile up points, but he’s not air tight defensively, especially in the defensive zone.

Johnny Oduya (Blackhawks) is another option, but he’s a left-handed shot and is not a big point producer. He’s a mobile defensive defenseman which the Wings’ blue line is full of already.

Cody Franson (Predators) could also fit. He’s a right-handed shot and has an offensive upside. He’s also been on Detroit’s radar in the past.

In all likelihood the Wings’ blue line will be made up of Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser, Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith, with Jakub Kindl, Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Brian Lashoff fighting the final two spots.

The Wings are also deep at forward, but could have interest in two players out there – Joel Ward (Capitals) and Matt Beleskey (Ducks).

The knock on Ward is his age; he turns 35 in December.

Beleskey, 27, is going to have teams lined up to sign him after scoring a career-high 22 goals last season. With the Wings’ top six forwards pretty much set in stone – Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist – they most likely aren’t willing to pay him top-six forward money if Beleskey is playing on the third line with Darren Helm and Luke Glendening.

Detroit also needs to slot Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Jurco and Landon Ferraro in the lineup.

“I want to be able to have the flexibility that some of these kids can make our team or have an opportunity throughout the season to call them up if they’re playing well and we can wheel them up,” Holland said. “We’re going to explore free agency. It’s not a deep class. There’s lots of players there, but most of the players that are available we feel our young players can develop into that somewhat quickly.

“What we’ve been doing on the fly is develop some of our young players in Grand Rapids into NHL players, give them some opportunities and exposure for them so we know what they can do,” Holland added. “That’s the direction we’re going.”

Then there are prospects Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Tomas Nosek and Tyler Bertuzzi that could get a shot to show if they are NHL ready.

“We think, even if we don’t do anything, guys like Larkin, Athanasiou and Nosek are in the process of developing into Red Wings and some of them might be one more year and some of them may even be just 40 games,” Holland said. “Anthony Mantha had a year where he had some adversity. I think he’s still in our plans big time. Some of these guys are going to need two to three years in the American Hockey League. Dylan Larkin, we’re anxious to see what he can do in training camp.”

The one position Holland won’t be focused on during free agency is in goal where Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek will battle for playing time.

“We’ve got eight or nine defensemen in our system that we think can play in the NHL,” Holland said. “A couple of them are going to go back to Grand Rapids and one of them might make Detroit. Would we like a right-shot defenseman? Yes I would, but if I can’t have a right-shot defenseman we have one in Marchenko and Jensen. We’ve got good depth. Are we looking to upgrade? Whether it’s on defense on forward, yeah, if you upgrade it fits in.”

The Wings also have to look towards next season when they’ll need to re-sign Helm, Abdelkader, Sheahan, DeKeyser and Mrazek.

Star studded 2002 Wings roster sends two more to Hockey Hall of Fame

DETROIT >> How star studded was that Detroit Red Wings’ 2002 roster?

Well, two more were named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Monday.

Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov make it nine from that roster to enter the Hall.

“We played on some great teams together with some great players and I think we had a great coach in Scotty Bowman, too, that was able to lead us in the right path and we had a lot of fun along the way, too,” Lidstrom said during a conference call after the announcement. “We won lots but we had a lot of fun doing it too.”

Detroit now has nine players from its 2002 team in the Hall of Fame – Igor Larionov (2008); Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille (2009); Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan (2013) and Dominik Hasek (2014).

“When I first came to Detroit, Steve Yzerman was our captain and he was the player I looked up to before I joined the Wings,” Lidstrom said. “He’s been a big influence. Being close to Steve and watching how hard he worked every day and showing up at games and playing even better in bigger games, I think he’s been a big influence.

“Sergei and I were roommates for quite a few years when we played together here,” Lidstrom continued. “So Sergei helped me out a lot too, seeing how he played and prepared every day. So those are a couple players that I looked up to.”

Both players were drafted by the Wings in 1989.

Lidstrom, 45, was taken in the third round (53rd overall) and they got Fedorov, 45, a round later (74th overall).

“That was the draft of the century, a fabulous, fabulous draft,” Jimmy Devellano said. “I’ve gone over every draft since 1969. There’s no team in the history of hockey that had a better draft than that one. It set us up for 15 years, maybe longer.”

Lidstrom, who had his No. 5 retired last season, spent all 20 seasons of his career with the Wings, will go down as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history.
He helped the Red Wings win four Stanley Cups in 11 seasons.

He won seven Norris Trophies, one less than legendary Bobby Orr, and is a member of the exclusive “Triple-Gold” club, winning both an Olympic gold medal (2006) and an IIHF World Championship (1991) with Sweden.

Lidstrom is one of five Wings who played on all four of Detroit’s Stanley Cup championship teams since 1997.

“I played with Larry Robinson,” former teammate Chris Chelios said. “I played against (Raymond) Bourque. You go even further with Doug Harvey, but in my opinion there couldn’t have been anyone better than Nicklas Lidstrom.

“His demeanor was really something,” Chelios continued. “Because of the passion I played with, I got too high, too low. Nick kept it at an even keel. Watching Nick and the effect he had on players, not losing his composure, never panicking, I slowly but surely, like the rest of the team, caught onto that.”

Fedorov, who in 1990 became the second player to defect from the Soviet Union during the Goodwill Games in Seattle, was as versatile as they come, being able to play wing, center and on the blue line.

Yzerman called Fedorov the “best skater” he had ever seen.

“When I was coming to the Red Wings I was 20 years old, Fedorov said. “I had no idea what’s going to happen to me. But I love playing hockey and when I came and played my first year I see 20,000 people cheering me. So it was very exciting. Honestly, that’s all I can refer to.

“At the same time, I don’t know, it was unbelievable because from where I come from in Russia we don’t have those kind of huge arenas and we don’t have that kind of, or sort of venues where so many people cheer you on and like what you do,” Fedorov added. “I don’t know, I’m in Detroit right now with my mom and we’re hanging out and we heard the news and it’s exciting.”

Fedorov won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1993-94, after racking up 56 goals and 120 points. He won the Selke Trophy twice, handed out to the league’s top defensive forward (1994 and 1996), and was part of three Cup-winning clubs in Detroit.

With the Wings, Fedorov finished with 400 goals and 954 points – fourth and fifth, respectively, on the franchise list.

When he signed a mega free agent offer sheet with Anaheim in 2003 his career took a downturn. He had five undistinguished seasons with the Ducks, Columbus and Washington before finishing his career in his native Russia.

Defensemen Chris Pronger and Phil Housley as well as Angela Ruggiero were also named to the Hall of Fame by the 18-member selection committee. Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. and Bill Hay of the Hockey Hall of Fame were named in the builder’s category.

For a seventh year in a row the Wings select a forward … Evgeny Svechnikov

The Detroit Red Wings kept their trend of picking forwards with their first pick in the NHL Entry Draft, Friday.

Detroit took 6-foot-2 Evgeny Svechnikov, 18, with the 19th overall selection in the first round.

It’s the seventh year in a row the Wings have selected a forward with their first pick, the last three prior to this year were centers.

The last defenseman Detroit selected in the first round was Brendan Smith in 2007, getting him 27th overall.

A native of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia, Svechnikov, has twice represented Russia at the Under-18 World Junior Championship.

Troy Dumville of NHL Central Scouting said of Svechnikov: “He proved to be a very skilled skater, strong on the puck and a player capable of doing a lot of things well. He plays a physical game, doesn’t back away, is aggressive on the forecheck and finishes checks.”

His point per game average of 0.95 was second-best among draft eligible QMJHL forwards, only Timo Meier (1.48) was better.

Svechnikov, whose final draft ranking was 17th, finished second among Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rookies with 78 points (32 goals, 46 assists) in 55 games.

Svechnikov, who was born on Halloween, is considered a power forward that can beat you physically. He also has enough skill and creativity offensively to beat defenders one-on-one.

His size, strength and skill allows him to compete against a variety of opponents.

His game has been compared by scouts to Max Pacioretty.

He’s the first Russian the Wings have taken in the first round since defenseman Max Kuznetsov was claimed 26th overall in 1995.

The final six rounds of the draft will take place Saturday.

The Wings don’t have a second round picks season, which they dealt away to Dallas for Erik Cole at the trade deadline last year.

The depth on the blue line in the organization is lacking with their top four prospects – Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul – will no longer be waiver-exempt after this season.

With the 19th pick in the first round Friday, Wings most likely taking best player available

DETROIT >> Six years in a row the Detroit Red Wings have selected a forward with their first pick in the NHL Entry Draft.

That could again be the case this season or it could not.

The Wings have the 19th overall pick in first round of this year’s draft that begins Friday at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

“At No. 19, we definitely got some options,” said Tyler Wright, who’s the Wings’ director of amateur scouting. “We’re confident we’re going to get two pretty good players at 19 and 73. We have options, too.”

The other options include choosing a defenseman or moving the pick.

The Wings could trade down to add picks since they don’t have a second rounder this season, which they dealt away to Dallas for Erik Cole at the trade deadline last year.

“For sure, especially with no second this year,” Wright said when asked if trading down was a possibility. “It’s obviously an option.”

The Wings traded down two spots – from 18 to 20 – to get Anthony Mantha in 2013. They also picked up an additional pick and took Tyler Bertuzzi (58th overall).

“We’re going through every scenario as far as moving back and picking up extra picks,” Wright said. “I’m not opposed to moving up either. Not going to leave any option closed. I’m OK with moving back.”

The last defenseman Detroit selected in the first round was Brendan Smith in 2007, getting him 27th overall.

The Wings’ first three picks in last year’s draft were centers, while six of the seven were forwards, who were all 6-foot or taller. The other was a goalie.

“Last year we didn’t really target centers,” Wright said. “At that point the depth of defense went away. We’re excited about the bigger centers. Just because they’re centers doesn’t mean they’ll be a center at the next level.

“I don’t think we’re really going to target specific needs,” Wright continued. “But if you never draft right-handed defensemen you’re not going to have right-handed defensemen. If there’s one area we’re looking at, that’s it. But we want good players regardless.”

The depth on the blue line in the organization is lacking with their top four prospects – Alexey Marchenko, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Ryan Sproul – will no longer be waiver-exempt after this season.

“I really like our depth,” Wright said. “You get all excited about prospects, but at the same time they haven’t played a game in the league. Young kids need to develop and get better. I think we’ve got a cluster of really good prospects. We have to continue to develop them. Until they’ve been regular NHL players they have to prove it every day.”

The final six rounds of the draft will take place Saturday.

“You look at all three positions,” Wright said. “It’s a fairly deep goalie draft. You try to add a goalie if it’s the right pick at the right time. I think goalies are a little harder to judge as far as development. If you have too many goalies that are good, that’s a good position to have.”

In the end the Wings will most likely select the best player available at No. 19 if they keep the pick.

“Everyone says it’s a deeper draft,” Wright said. “I think every draft is a deep draft. You have to dig and find players.

“It’s a very good draft,” Wright added. “Once you get out of the top 10-12 players there’s a group of players that could go into the second round and be successful players – at all three positions.”

Wings want to continue to build on the fly with young talent

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.”

Wings’ blue line needs are the same as a year ago

DETROIT >> When July 1 rolled around last year, the Detroit Red Wings were in the market for a right-hand shooting defenseman that could slot into one of their top two pairings.

They weren’t able to land one.

With that still needing to be filled, it’ll be a bit more difficult to do so since this year’s blue line unrestricted free agents that fit what they’re looking for are slim.

The top three right-handed shots on the market are Mike Green, Zbynek Michalek and Cody Franson.

Green had a cap hit of just under $6.1 million last season with Washington and Michalek, who was dealt to St. Louis from Arizona prior to the trade deadline last season, had a cap hit of $4 million. Franson, who was traded from Toronto to Nashville last year, made $3.3 million.

“A year ago on July 1 we were looking for a right-shot defenseman we thought could get points,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “There were two or three on the market. When we didn’t get them we just stopped. We felt that the young players we had in our organization were the answer.

“I’d like to think by getting 100 points and making the playoffs, to a degree, validated the decisions we made,” Holland continued. “Certainly we’re disappointed we weren’t able to finish off, being up 3-2 on Tampa Bay. We’ve got to get better. Part of that improvement is going to be the experience that (Tomas) Tatar, (Gustav) Nyquist, (Danny) DeKeyser, (Luke) Glendening, (Petr) Mrazek, (Tomas) Jurco and (Riley) Sheahan have had in the Boston series and in the Tampa Bay series.”

Detroit could also make a one-year pitch for Marek Zidlicky, who came to the Wings after the trade deadline from New Jersey.

The Wings are also in a better position, due to the depth they’ve got within the organization, to possibly make a trade to acquire what they need.

“I don’t want anyone to think ‘they’re making trades’ because the trades have got to make sense,” Holland said. “The other thing that factors into any decisions we make, if you forward to this summer and the summer of ’16, we’ve got to re-sign Nyquist, we’ve got to re-sign (Justin) Abdelkader, DeKeyser, (Darren) Helm, Sheahan, Mrazek, Jurco. We’ve got lots of people between the summer of ‘15 and summer of ‘16, when they get re-signed they go up in salary. They’re going to eat more cap space.

“Part of getting better is drafting, developing, staying patient, staying the course, try to tweak,” Holland continued. “We tried some things on the free agent market the last 2-3 years, it hasn’t worked out, hasn’t had the impact we wanted. Consider the free agent market again, what it probably did for me was reinforce the kids we got are pretty good. They can play in the league, but obviously our goal is to win a Stanley Cup, like 29 other teams. Sometimes it’s a process.”