When the Red Wings drafted Steve Yzerman back in 1983 (in the 4th round no less), I don’t think anyone really expected what he brought to the Joe and the city of Detroit. (Author’s Note: When this piece was first written, I did research the picks for the players named in this post. It would appear that I have misread the information I saw, and incorrectly identified Stevie Y as a fourth round pick, when in fact he was a first round pick, fourth overall. My apologies to Steve and to you, the reader, for posting incorrect information.) The talent the Red Wings have acquired and developed over the years since then has been nothing if not spectacular. Especially in 1989, where the Wings drafted the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom in the 3rd round, Sergei Fedorov in the 4th round, and Vladimir Konstantinov in the 11th round, the boys in the Motor City made the Red Wings relevant again, igniting the fan faithful and inspiring the tradition of the octopus.
So how is it that we now talk of blowing up the Wings? It’s not loud, but if you listen in the dark corners of the Joe, you can probably hear the whispers. Should we blow it up? What do we have to look forward to after Henrik and Pavel? Datsyuk is arguably one of the best two way players the game has seen. It cannot be argued, however, that Pavel is on the back nine at age 34. His production has gone down every year since 2008-09 when he had 97 points. That production is not the issue here, however. Pavel can be a great example to a young team such as Colorado (Oh, no I didn’t suggest that did I?) or Edmonton. His two way play and classic, above board style should rub off on the youngsters. Pavel has one year remaining after this season, and his 6.7 million would easily fit under both teams” caps. The interesting bit is what would The Wings want in return? First and a second round pick? High level prospects? Another issue is his no trade clause. Would he be willing to waive it? The issue here is that Detroit needs to get younger and maintain their talent level to keep the butts in the seats.
The next aging yet still extremely viable option to send away in a deal is Henrik Zetterberg. At 32 years of age, he is still somewhat in his prime, and I don’t foresee the Wings dealing away their newly named captain (only the third captain they’ve named since 1986 – can you guess the other two?). He is the new heart and soul of this team and needs to stick around for some of the same reasons the Av’s should acquire Pavel. Another reason they’ll keep him around is his current contract (it runs through 2021).
Mikael Samuelsson is 36 years old and sucking up salary without production. He has one more year on his current deal but also has a no trade clause so would probably only be willing to move to a team that has the potential to go deep into the playoffs. Question here…What would a team that was going deep into the playoffs want with an aging winger that doesn’t appear to be producing at the level he once was. His contract is somewhat attractive at $3 million, but how much push would he require to produce? Bertuzzi fits into this mold as well. He is the senior member of the Wings at 38, with one more year on his deal and a no trade clause to boot. He hasn’t played much at all this season, and his toughness could be attractive along with his slightly over $2 million dollar contract balance, but again, who would bring in a player with one skate in retirement.
The remainder of the team is young…except for Danny Cleary, who at 34 will be an unrestricted free agent. The Wings will probably not tender him another offer, what with Filpula’s contract expiring, ownership will need the funds to pay him. Damien Brunner will command a few million a year as well. Youth will serve the Red Wings well, but they need to shore up their prospects. Most of the good youth has been called up due to injuries so they are thin in the minors. Dealing someone like Datsyuk could bring them the young gun and/or draft picks to beef up the minors and bring about the rebound to success that the original six team in Detroit so deserves.
Only covered the forwards here, the goaltending and defensive corps are both young and talented, with Kronwall taking on the mantle of “number one defenseman”. The go-to guy on the blueline appears to understand his role and with his current deal, will be around for many years. The only other d-man over 30 is Kent Huskins, and as a UFA will probably be looking at other teams come the end of the year.
The goaltending is young and good. Not great, mind you, but Mrazek has shown flashes. Jimmy Howard will most assuredly be offered a deal at the end of the year, and at 28 still has many years ahead of him.