As Sunday’s “free agent frenzy” dwindled the Detroit Red Wings decided to liven things up a bit, making two rapid fire signings that took Hockeytown by surprise, the first of which brings a former Wings player back into the fold.
MLive’s Ansar Khan (among others) reports the terms of the deal have Samuelsson making $6 million over the life of the contract, which includes a full no trade clause.
Red Wings fans will remember Samuelsson from his four-year stint with the Wings from 2005-06 to 2008-09, a run which saw him accumulate 67 goals and 92 assists over 278 regular season games, adding another 13 goals and 22 assists in 69 playoff games, and of course winning the Cup with the team in 2008. He had a good run with Detroit, and neither side particularly wanted him to leave in the first place, but the Red Wings couldn’t offer him the playing time or money he desired, and so off to Vancouver it was (eventually to be traded to the Florida Panthers).
It’s that familiarity and woeful regret (seems to be a reoccurring theme lately) that seem to have played a big role in the decision to reacquire Samuelsson’s services. At least that’s what I gathered from GM Ken Holland’s comments to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose.
“We know him and he can skate. He has the ability to chip in with some scoring, he has a real good shot and he can transport the puck up the ice on the power play. He’s a real good solid pro and again we know him. You see guys 38, 39, and 40-years-old getting three-year deals, but I think he’s a good, young 35 because of his ability to skate.”
Holland decided to keep the theme of familiarity going with his next signing, only this time it wasn’t an old friend he’d be bringing to Detroit, but instead a frequent enemy.
Again via Khan, Tootoo is slated to make $5.7 million over the life of the deal.
At 29 years of age, the former Nashville Predator is one of the most hated players in the league. He’s an agitator, a fighter, and prone to taking dumb penalties (just what Detroit needs with Quincey, Abdelkader, and Ericsson already in the mix). It was uncomfortable news for Red Wings fans to swallow, and Holland himself admitted to feeling a bit of discomfort.
But Tootoo brings more to the lineup than just “snarl,” he’s a capable player in his own right. His 6 goal 24 assist campaign in 2011-12 was the best of his career, and a guy that’s close friends with (and plays as hard as) Darren Helm can’t be all bad, right?
Both signings initially left a taste of confusion in the mouths of many of the Red Wings faithful, but upon further examination do make a great deal of sense.
Samuelsson is a replacement for Jiri Hudler. He’s an older but better skating option that can be just as effective as Hudler if given the right environment, and his $3 million a year price tag is likely at least $1 million cheaper than what Hudler will go for.
Tootoo on the other hand likely replaces Tomas Holmstrom while providing the Red Wings with a more physical presence in the bottom-6 while, and that’s exactly what Ken Holland told the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness.
“We wanted to get some physical play into our game. We think he’ll provide an element of an edge to our team on the bottom six. We played against Nashville, we know him, he’s physical, he gets under your skin of our players. It’s an ingredient we’ve always talked about.”
Holland also wanted to add depth, as he told the aforementioned Bill Roose.
“With Damien Brunner, with Samuelsson and Todd Bertuzzi and a healthy Danny Cleary, we’re hoping that with the development of the kids were getting a lot of bodies and we’ll see what happens in the next few days.”
Does that accumulation of bodies simply mean the Red Wings are overbuilding, or are they preparing to trade away several assets?
The number of forwards the Red Wings currently have locked down does incite a bit of intrigue. They didn’t snag a defender today, and should they miss out on the likes of Ryan Suter or Matt Carle, it’s a very real possibility that they could use that excess of forwards to trade for someone like Tobias Enstrom or Keith Yandle, two players rumored to be on the trading block recently.
Or if they do land one of Suter or Carle but miss out on forwards Zach Parise and Alexander Semin, could they choose to try to acquire a top end goal scorer like Rick Nash (unlikely) or Bobby Ryan (plausible)?
It’s impossible to know for sure, but comments like this from Holland seem to speak to the idea that a trade is at least in the realm of possibility.
“In order to have a possibility of being involved in deals for Suter or Parise if we lose some people we lose some people.”
It’s all speculation for now, but with perhaps 17 NHL caliber forwards slated to be Red Wings heading into next season, one would tend to believe that moves will have to be made, even if it’s just to get draft picks.
Whether a trade comes to fruition or not, there’s no way in which today’s signings (which included snagging Jonas Gustavsson and Damien Brunner) hurt the Red Wings. They added depth, something Mike Babcock has been asking for, without taking themselves out of the running for anyone. It can never hurt to have an abundance of good players, and if the Wings need to get rid of a few in order to add a “great” one or two, they appear more than prepared to do so.