Oh, hello there. I hope you had a wonderful New Year celebration, and that the Winter Classic Fellatiofest coupled with Red Wings crapping the bed against two L’Eastern Conference clubs hasn’t soiled 2011 for you already. Quick aside: I was watching the Winter Classic with my father-in-law, who is a season ticket holder for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, but doesn’t catch a ton of hockey on television. Upon hearing the absolutely inane chatter of Doc Emrick, Darren Pang, Pierre Maguire, and Eddie Olczyk, he let out a “who are these clowns” exclamation…prompting me to almost come to the defense of Emrick. But why? Everyone tells you he’s a legend…but if you listen to him, it’s mostly nonsense and the word “DRIIIIIIIIVE.” He’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but I’m tempted to ask if it’s a Chris Osgood-like matter of being around forever.
Anyway… due to overwhelming reader outrage over our extended disappearance (read: one comment from @BizCassty), I thought I’d take a crack at getting back behind the wheel here.
Now that the calendar has turned over and we’re being jailsexed by January, the Red Wings (and, yes, other teams, too…but who cares) are allowed to negotiate extensions with players who signed one-year deals. Some are taking advantage of their one-season opportunity (Patrick Eaves), some will be injured for most of theirs (Mike Modano), and others probably regret having signed this past summer at all (Derek Meech).
To take things a step further, 21 players that are Red Wings property will be free agents come July 1st. A lot could happen between now and then, but it’s never too early to look ahead at what the future holds — particularly since we’re getting a look at Jan Mursak and Tomas Tatar: two guys who have held their own and looked pretty good in their call-ups (calls-up?). By the way, does anyone think that Tatar sticks around longer than Mursak — or is Mursak going to get the Ritola treatment since he will have to clear waivers next season, while Tatar will not?
So I turn the question to you — what do you think the odds are of the following players returning next season?
Kris Draper :: with Maltby moving on, is this season his swan song as well?
Patrick Eaves :: will the Wings be able to afford him if he keeps up the pace?
Ilari Filppula :: will he pull a Leino and demand NHL time, or be satisfied in Grand Rapids again?
Jimmy Howard :: what kind of raise should he expect — and will he get?
Sergei Kolosov :: I’m sure the Wings hoped he’d be closer by now, but he’s always been a project.
Nicklas Lidstrom :: rejuvenating season — or one last hurrah?
Joey MacDonald :: with McCollum not coming along quickly, does he stick around for emergencies?
Derek Meech :: probably can’t wait until July 1st.
Drew Miller :: may not be satisfied playing every other game (when everyone’s healthy).
Mike Modano :: regardless of a Cup, is the team interested in keeping Mo?
Chris Osgood :: despite my thoughts, is there a better backup for so few dollars?
Ruslan Salei :: strong season, but is the 5/6 D slot an easy one to fill on the market?
Jamie Tardif :: Griffins captain, but way down the Wings call-up depth chart.
Dick Axelsson :: according to Hat Trick Dick, the Wings want to re-sign him. Color me skeptical.
Cory Emmerton :: waiver-eligible next season. Big decision looming here.
Jonathan Ericsson :: Holland was hoping for an extension during the season…
Jan Mursak :: waiver-eligible next season, and looks good in the NHL. But so did Ritola. Thoughts?
Jordan Owens :: caught Babcock’s eye in training camp, but with guys like Mursak, Tatar, Filppula… is he worth hanging onto?
Francis Pare :: hasn’t really caught on in the AHL, even.
Jordan Pearce :: has long said he’d be a doctor if the NHL didn’t look like it was imminent. Good on him.
Logan Pyett :: also waiver-eligible, has he earned a shot on the Wings blueline? Probably not.
2011-12 Red Wings (already signed)
Zetterberg — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Bertuzzi — Filppula — Franzen
Cleary — Helm — Hudler
_____ — Abdelkader — _____
Rafalski — _____
Kronwall — Stuart
_____ — _____
Eight slots on next year’s roster wide open… and $44.6M accounted for. If the cap doesn’t wiggle at all, that’s $15M to play with.
HAVE AT IT, FRIENDS.