After going out in the first round after just five games, the Detroit Red Wings have raised a fair amount of eyebrows by fans and the media alike. One main question looms: What do they need to fix? Is it minor tweaks, an addition here, a subtraction there? Or is it a complete overhaul?
One thing is for certain, the Red Wings will be shopping around for a top four defenseman to fill their roster. It's more than likely that Brad Stuart will be heading back to the West Coast somewhere in order to be closer to his family. And if Nicklas Lidstrom decides to hang up the skates and call it a career, this team is in hotter water than they have ever handled within the past decade.
The team added Kyle Quincey (again) to the lineup at the trade deadline. Yet after having a terrific first game back, he seemed to peter out and not do much - or at least as much as fans were expecting. Will the Red Wings re-sign him and hope he'll pick up the pace again?
The team needs to find a solid, reliable defenseman this off-season. They have the cap space to make a fairly major signing. Rumors have spread that they may make a move for Shea Weber or Ryan Suter, though many fans believe Weber's stunt against Henrik Zetterberg in Game 1 of the series may have changed Ken Holland's mind.
Regardless of whether Lidstrom returns or not, a defenseman is needed. If Lidstrom returns, there is more money to play around with; if he stays, there will be at least the $4.8mill they have right now for being under the cap (plus the inevitable $3.75mill from Stuart's contract). The Red Wings will know how much money they'll be able to use before July 1 - Lidstrom has said he'll make his decision by then.
Another question that has been raised is the need for a backup goaltender. Chris Osgood retiring left Holland to sign Ty Conklin, who was a stellar backup for Osgood in the 2008-2009 season, but it proved to be a bust this season. Conklin faced being sent down to the minors while Joey MacDonald took the reigns and became a fairly solid backup, then the starter. But much like Quincey, MacDonald fell a little flat. And then went down with an injury.
Is MacDonald ready to be a consistent backup? With the solid games he played, many Red Wings fans can see a duo of Howard-MacDonald forming similar to the Hasek-Osgood of 2007-2008: No matter who starts, there's no need to really worry. But if MacDonald isn't ready just yet, the Red Wings need to start scouring the market for a solid goaltender that will be fine with being a backup.
Do the Red Wings need another power forward? Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are the Euro Twins, and a dynamic duo on the power play, but both had off seasons, and the player with the most goals this season turned out to be Jiri Hudler (whose contract is up this season). When Zetterberg struggled at the start of the season, it wasn't a big deal because Johan Franzen picked up the slack.
But Franzen practically disappeared at the end of the season, which he always seems to do. He always comes alive in the playoffs. The latter did not happen, and it raises a lot of questions. Do the Red Wings try to trade Franzen for a more consistent player? Is there a team that would even want to deal with his lengthy contract?
Is someone like Zach Parise out of the question? He's an unrestricted free agent this year and has a price tag of at least $6mill. There is the possibility of Holland working his magic, something similar to what he did with Marian Hossa for 2008-2009, dangling the opportunity at the Stanley Cup in front of him, but offering less money. It could potentially work, though it's very circumstantial.
The Red Wings could also trade someone like Valtteri Filppula, although the Finnish player finally had the breakout season for which this team has been waiting. They may not want to trade him away just yet. Then again, it depends on what exactly is out there and what needs to be put on the table to make a good deal.
These past few off-seasons have seen this organization not making a very big splash in the UFA market. One thing can be said for certain - with an ending to the season like this, the Red Wings are going to make a fairly big splash at some point come July 1.
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