Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's that time again...

In a lot of ways, most of the Wings' free agency decisions sound to have already been made - or at least in the sense that the organization knows what they'd like (“I need a goalie, three defenceman and two forwards," says Holland), not necessarily what they'll be able to accomplish. That actual accomplishing rests a whole lot on the decision of one guy:

Dominik Hasek #39 G: I admit, I was skeptical. Okay, who wasn't skeptical? Bringing him back was a huge gamble and personally I was still bitter about how easily we tossed Manny Legace aside at the end of last season. But I will happily admit it was a brilliant gamble that could hardly have worked out any better. And now the Wings want him back. Given the effort Dom put in this season to make sure he could play, I believe he can do it again. Of course looking at the other options (uhhh, what free agent goalie pool?) of spending an exorbitant amount on a goalie like Giguere (there's a name that's been floating around), or of a tandem team of Osgood and Jimmy Howard (he's what, been the "future of Red Wings goaltending" for about five years now right?) who it's been said could use another year in the minors, I can't see how anyone would think little of resigning him. And neither can the Wings. He's apparently made his decision, but we don't get to know it quite yet. For the sake of my boys, I hope he stays - regardless it'll impact the futures of all the other Wings' UFAs including...

Chris Chelios #24 D: The Wings are close to signing just signed a one year deal with Chelios, and I don't think anyone was doubting he'd be back. Say what you will about him, but there's hardly a more dedicated man on the squad (come on, all those horror stories about stationary bikes in the sauna every day?) and as long as he can play, especially step up the way he did this season in the playoffs when we were hurting on the blueline, why not. Besides, what would Versus do if they couldn't toss out Hasek and Cheli's ages every five or so minutes?

Matheiu Schneider #23 D: Schneider is easily coming off of two of the best years of his career, and the Wings have made resigning him their number one priority. He's stated how much he'd like to stay - the only problem is, will he be willing to take a discount for it. It's estimated on the free agent market he could pull in up to $5.25 million, something the Wings might not be open to paying. Considering his level of play lately, though, Schneider is a great asset to the Wings' blueline - I think we'll definitely see him back.

Danny Markov #95 D: Another strong veteran defenseman who the Wings would like to hold on to, Markov's got only one problem, and its numbers are 2 and 3. As much as anyone would like him to stay, if Hasek retires and cap money has to be spent looking for another goalie, if Schneider wants more money, the Wings will sign Matheiu and ship Markov out, replacing him with Kyle Quincey. As a defensively strong, puck possession-type team, a sturdy defenseman like Markov would be an asset - but Quincey had a strong performance during the playoffs, making but a few "rookie" mistakes, and could doubtfully take Markov's spot if necessary. Poor guy, just someone else who has to sit around and wait on someone else's decision.

Robert Lang #20 C: I love Robert Lang. I really do. I might just be biased toward Czechs, but he is, or at least was, a strong, gritty forward who you could count on to at least be solid and have opportunities. We got a brief glimpse of that every once in a while, this season. Every ten or so games the lines would get shifted and we'd all think that we figured out the key to Robert Lang. Look how well he played with Calder at first, or with Bertuzzi. And then, inevitably, he'd fade away again. How many times did we follow up Lang's name with "useless" or "who?" during the postseason this year? Oh he had his glory moments - that tying goal against San Jose much? But he disappeared beneath the Datsyuks and the Zetterbergs. His return hasn't been ruled out yet, apparently, but he's got ice time concerns, and with the way he played this year, and the way some other outplayed him, it's doubtful. The Wings are in the market for a new second-line centre - and there are even rumors that Val Filppula will step up and replace him.

Kyle Calder #17 LW: Who? Someone send a search party out for this guy, seriously (or at least for his mysterious ailment during the playoffs). He started off strong enough, even spurring Lang on, and we all thought we got a good deal especially since all we traded away was useless-but-for-shootouts Jason Williams (...I miss you come back okay?). And then he vanished. There are rumors about broken hands or wrists or whatnot, but the disappearing act that led to him getting benched at the end of the playoffs in favor of younger (and cheaper) Tomas Kopecky, who hadn't even been playing since a collarbone injury in December, is a pretty good sign that he's as good as gone already.

Todd Bertuzzi #44 RW: Bertuzzi brought some grit, some toughness, to the team. Sure he wasn't a hundred percent after the back injury, and sure he didn't do anything terribly amazing, but he had a relatively good run with the Wings, and he delivered a bit of roughness the Wings and their constantly criticized lack of physical play have gone without as of late. Personally I'd like to see him back, but will it happen? Holland is interested and Big Bert wants to stay, but given the injury and the money we need to spend elsewhere, it'll depend on what he's willing to accept. Once again, Hasek's decision and the cost of resigning Schneider matter a lot.

(And finally, since we're still on free agents, how about that pesky Ryan Smyth to the Wings rumor? Though it sounds like the cap won't be hitting that 52 million that started it in the first place, it's got me thinking. Do the Wings really need another Holmstrom-type player? Would you argue against someone like Smytty even if we don't? Could I survive being so torn between knowing it was my team that had landed someone I loved so much, and knowing that the second I saw him in a winged wheel and not the oil drop I would burst into tears? It seems unlikely, but the arguments for it make you think...)


KMS2 said...

If Hasek doesn't return, who do you think your #1 will be? Do you think the Wings will make an offer to JS? That would be interesting.

KMS2 said...

Ok, disregard my first comment because I just went to NPI and saw that Hasek is returning.

Steph said...

Actually we don't know his decision yet - just that he made one. I based that post around the hope that he would be :b But as to your question I really don't know what we'd do. We have a few options (Giguere being one, Osgood/Howard being another) but...none of them seem like really good fixes or sure things.