In the coming weeks, we’re teaming with our friends at Winging it in Motown to break down each of the Red Wings’ impending free agents. At the end of each breakdown, you’ll have a chance to give your vote: are you Prodano… or Nodano? We’ll compile all of the data over 48 hours and report back about where the community sits on each of the potential departures.
But first, a little background information about the Red Wings’ salary cap situation heading into 2011-12. With 11 forwards (including Jan Mursak, but excluding Cory Emmerton), the Wings have committed just under $31.5M on the front end. With Jimmy Howard and four defenders, there’s just under $16M committed to the rear. That’s a total of $47.5M of the projected $62M salary cap.
The Red Wings will have about $14M to play with — and that’s to fill the holes on the forward units, sign (or promote) another three defenseman, and find a backup goaltender. If Nicklas Lidstrom returns, he’ll command the lion’s share of that pool, so big name free agents like Brad Richards are absolutely out. However, the Wings have proven time and time again that they can work magic without much cap space, and we should all have faith that GM Ken Holland and braintrust will deliver another stellar roster by the time camp rolls around.
Without further ado, our first free agent up for pro/no debate:
Mike Modano, center, #90
40-years-old (turning 41 in June)
6’3″ :: 210 lbs
21 NHL seasons (1 with Detroit)
From Westland, MI
Regular Season — 40 games played, 4 goals, 11 assists, 8 penalty minutes, -4, 12:26 average time on ice.
Playoffs — 2 games played, 0 goals, 1 assist, 0 penalty minutes, +1, 10:13 average time on ice.
On August 5th, the Red Wings signed local hero Mike Modano to a one-year contract worth $1.25M in base salary with the opportunity to make an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses. Of those bonuses, he met two: 40 games played ($150,000) and round 1 playoff win ($125,000) making the total he earned in one season with the Red Wings $1,525,000.
As of July 1st, he will be an unrestricted free agent.
Prior to his wrist injury (which was sustained on November 26th), Modano had played in all twenty of the Wings’ games. He returned on February 26th, playing 20 of the team’s 21 remaining games, missing only April 3rd against Minnesota (the second half of a back-to-back) as a healthy scratch.
However, he seemed to lose his spot in the lineup for the post-season. He was a healthy scratch for 9 of the 11 games Detroit played — spelling an injured Johan Franzen for Game 4 against Phoenix, and again in Game 6 against San Jose.
With a full complement of players, Modano found himself in healthy scratch territory — rotating with Kris Draper for the final few games of the second round. If Franzen were healthy, it’s likely that neither Modano nor Draper would be in the lineup.
CASE FOR MODANO
1) He’s a hometown boy, hailing from nearby Westland (or Livonia, depending on who’s telling the story).
2) Despite his age, he’s still damn fast and a wonderfully skilled skater and a legitimate threat.
3) He knows how to win — and become a valuable member of the team even if he’s not in the lineup each game.
CASE AGAINST MODANO
1) Never really became accustomed to the Red Wings style of play, but was improving each game until his injury.
2) His fire may have been extinguished being a healthy scratch at the most important part of the season.
3) Considering his age, recent injury history, and offensive production, the Red Wings can likely replace him without having to pay $1M.
WHAT HE’S SAYING
Before the playoffs even began, he sounded like he was leaning toward retiring no matter what the season’s outcome was. Following the second round exit, he says that he’s “75% sure” that he’s going to call it quits, adding that “there’s a high probability my playing days are over.” If this is, indeed, the end of his playing career, he’ll likely return to Dallas and become a member of the Stars front office.
If he does decide to play, he can’t expect to make more than he did this season — and would likely have to take a pay cut to continue playing in Detroit or anywhere else he’d consider. Given his history, however, it might be insulting to offer under a million. If he were to continue, I’d have to guess he’d sign somewhere around $1M – $1.25M
Internal :: Jan Murak and Cory Emmerton are potentially ready to play similar third/fourth line minutes next season.
External :: Upcoming free agents of Mike Modano’s ilk (meaning, age and salary range) are Mark Recchi (BOS), Doug Weight (NYI), and John Madden (MIN).
WHAT DO YOU THINK
THANK YOU FOR YOUR VOTES! THEY’RE BEING TABULATED NOW, AND WINGING IT IN MOTOWN AND THE PRODUCTION LINE WILL HAVE RESULTS AFTER WE CYCLE THROUGH ALL OF THE CANDIDATES!
Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP