It’s Free Agent Season!
LIVE CHATS ARE OUR THING…
Join us on Thursday, Free Agent Day (or “Canada Day” for those of you “north” of the border), as we’ll be hosting a Live Chat during the festivities. Much like the Trade Deadline and Draft Day, where much fun was had, we’ll have a CoverItLive open, co-hosted by Motown Wings/TOV‘s Chris Hollis and we’re working on having another fantastic contributor around… more on that later.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS QUALIFIED — AND NOT — AND PROBABLY NOT.
According to MLive beat writer/Star Trek villain/mustache connoisseur Ansar Khan, the Red Wings have formally extended qualifying offers to nine of their restricted free agents. In short, a restricted free agent is one whose rights remain property of their original team — even if another team gets them to sign on the dotted line on July 1st (known as an “offer sheet”). The original team is entitled to match the offer, or accept compensation in the form of draft picks. The nine players qualified (and therefore, have their rights maintained) are:
:: Justin Abdelkader
:: Patrick Eaves
:: Darren Helm
:: Derek Meech
:: Drew Miller
:: Daniel Larsson (who will play in Sweden this season)
:: Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (who will also play in Sweden)
:: Sergei Kolosov (who will most likely be back in Grand Rapids)
:: Jamie Tardiff (the Griffins captain)
On the other side of restricted free agency is neglecting to qualify a player (qualifying offers, by the way, are a 10% raise on their last deal’s salary). In essence, those players become unrestricted free agents on July 1st and are open season for other teams, with the Red Wings receiving nothing by way of compensation:
:: Evan McGrath (who has been with the team since the ’04 Draft)
:: Johan Ryno (who nearly made the team two seasons ago but couldn’t hack it in the AHL)
The Wings do have three additional restricted free agents that are not named in the Khan piece, so you have to wonder what their status is for the upcoming season. Jeremy Williams, Riley Armstrong, and Ryan Oulahen were with the Griffins this past season, but it appears they’ve been made unrestricted free agents, unless there’s something I’m missing.
THE UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
In addition to the five players listed above who were not qualified, the Red Wings have five remaining unrestricted free agents, some of whom may be courted as soon as the free agency season opens at noon on Thursday.
:: Jason Williams (who has already been told he won’t be back)
:: Brad May (who may be leaning toward retirement)
:: Brett Lebda (who was shut down by the KHL, say what)
:: Kirk Maltby
:: Andreas Lilja
Of those five, it’s clear Andreas Lilja is the most valuable commodity. For as much as I love Kirk Maltby, he would have to endure nights in the press box assuming all of the RFAs are returning, and given his age, he has become what some would consider expendable. He’s got hockey left in him and the intangibles are inarguable — so if he signs somewhere else, I wish him nothing but the best.
Lilja, though, would prefer a raise (instead of the paycut the Wings are likely to offer him, thanks Todd Bertuzzi) and an increased role, building on his defacto 5th/6th defenseman thing he’s got going on in Motown. One could argue that he’s not built for a top four role (read: slow as shit), but there’s no question he stabilized the third pairing in Detroit, babysitting the 6’5″ shitbox who wears #52.
THE 2010-11 RED WINGS
At this very moment, there are 18 players under contract — including Mattias Ritola, but excluding Doug Janik — that are likely going to be on the big squad next season. Uncle Mike has even started throwing around line combinations. Word? Word.
By my count, the Wings have $54,142,045 dedicated to salary (again, assuming Doug Janik isn’t on the squad) to those 18, leaving $5,257,955 to sign the five remaining restricted free agents (which averages to a salary around $1,050,000)
But wait, there’s more!
Teams can exceed the salary cap by 10% until the final day of training camp, so signing guys like Derek Meech — who may be traded before the start of the regular season — isn’t cap suicide. So stay tuned for moves like that.