The Detroit Red Wings Offseason Gameplan

I know the Wings are in the midst of their push for a  23rd consecutive playoff berth, but it’s never too early to think about the offseason gameplan, especially one as critical as this. With injuries devastating the team, the Wings got a look at a handful (or should I say multiple handfuls) of their young prospects and almost all of them have impressed. This puts the Wings in a difficult position for next year with contracts for certain veterans expiring. The Wings have always been known to allow their young talent to season in Grand Rapids, but with so many of their young guys getting playing time, it’s going to be hard to send these guys back down. Here’s my breakdown and my opinion on what the Wings should do this offseason.

(Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)
Will Daniel Alfredsson be back with Detroit next year? (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

The current salary cap is $64.3 million and CapGeek/NHL Board of Governors project the salary cap to be $71.1 million next season. The Wings had a cap payroll of $67,695,493 for this season (they made it work by having players on the long-term injury reserve. As of now, the Wings currently have $49,974,545 tied up in 16 players for next season, leaving them with approximately $21 million to work with for 7 roster spots to get to a roster size of 23.

Wings’ Free Agents

For the purposes of this free agent outlook, I’m only going to look at guys that have appeared in the Winged Wheel this season. The Wings do have five additional free agents, but they are exclusively minor league players and therefore, I won’t focus on their contracts. The advanced stats are taken from Extra Skater.

Player Position Free Agent Status Current Cap Hit NHL Games Played Goals/Wins Assists/GAA Points/SV% 5-on-5 CF% 5-on-5 FF%
David Legwand Center Unrestricted $4.5 million 76 13 36 40 49.5% 50.7%
Daniel Alfredsson Right Wing Unrestricted $5.5 million 63 17 28 45 50.2% 49.4%
Mikael Samuelsson Right Wing Unrestricted $3.0 million 26 1 2 3 50.8% 51.5%
Todd Bertuzzi Right Wing Unrestricted $2.075 million 57 9 7 16 49.5% 48.6%
Daniel Cleary Left Wing Unrestricted $1.75 million 52 4 4 8 47.3% 47.4%
Riley Sheahan Center Restricted $785,000 35 6 15 21 56.1% 56.6%
Tomas Tatar Right Wing Restricted $630,000 66 18 16 34 55.9% 55.8%
Luke Glendening Center Restricted $575,000 49 0 5 5 45.6% 46.7%
Kyle Quincey Defenseman Unrestricted $3.775 million 75 4 8 12 50.0% 50.4%
Danny DeKeyser Defenseman Restricted $925,000 59 4 16 20 49.3% 49.8%
Jonas Gustavsson Goaltender Unrestricted $1.5 million 25 16 2.52 0.912 51.2% 51.9%
Adam Almquist Defenseman Restricted $604,167 2 1 0 1 50.0% 51.4%
Mitchell Callahan Right Wing Restricted $565,278 1 0 0 0 63.6% 57.1%
Cory Emmerton Center Restricted $533,333 18 0 2 2 50.0% 50.9%
Landon Ferraro Center Restricted $685,000 4 0 0 0 32.6% 37.1%


Free Agent Recommendations

The guys listed here have appeared in at least one game for the Wings and their contracts will be up this summer. Of the guys listed here, Sheahan, Almquist, Callahan, and Ferraro are exempt from waivers. If the Red Wings somehow miss the playoffs, Glendening would be eligible as he only has 11 games of eligibility remaining. The rest of the guys on this list would have to clear waivers if sent down and thus, several cuts will have to be made.

The Lifetime Achievement Group 

The Wings should not re-sign Emmerton, Samuelsson, Cleary, or Bertuzzi. At this point of his career, it’s clear that Cory Emmerton will not amount to a consistent NHL player and the Wings would be better off cutting ties with him as the new wave of youth is about to pass him by. Bertuzzi, Cleary, and Samuelsson have all spent the last two seasons being woefully ineffective and oft-injured. They all have made significant contributions to the Wings throughout their careers, but this offseason is not the time to offer them a lifetime achievement contract.

Todd Bertuzzi Red Wings
Bertuzzi has (Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)

The Daniel Alfredsson Dilemma

Daniel Alfredsson is a different story. To me, if he wants to sign for another year, then the Wings have to give it to him so long as it is at a reasonable rate. The $5.5 million cap hit he had this season seems just a tad too high. If the Wings can bring that down to $4.5-$5 million with the similar games played bonus, then I am all for that contract. Alfredsson has been a mainstay for the Wings this year and is currently tied for 2nd in points on the Red Wings with the red-hot Gustav Nyquist. For the sake of the analysis, I’ll pretend that the Wings give Alfredsson a 1-year $4.75 million deal.

The Hometown Kid

The Red Wings should not re-sign Legwand. Yes, he’s a hometown guy and yes he still has plenty to offer at age 33. However, the Wings simply have too much center depth when healthy. If you asked general manager Ken Holland at the beginning of the year if he thought he would trade for a center, he would have thought you were crazy. The Wings have Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, and Joakim Andersson under contract for next year and we haven’t even talked about Riley Sheahan yet. Legwand has not been effective enough to justify giving him the likely $4 million contract he’s looking for.

Mr. “Elastic-I-Wish-They-Were-Steel-Groins” Gustavsson

In year one of Gustavsson’s contract, he was atrocious. This year? The Wings likely are on the outside of the playoff picture if not for Gustavsson’s stellar play. However, the Wings would be wise not to re-sign him. It seems like Gustavsson plays three games, injures his groin, and then is out two weeks. The Wings also have a logjam of goaltenders in Grand Rapids with Petr Mrazek, Jake Paterson, and Thomas McCollum. I think the Wings should let Gustavsson go, and recall Mrazek, who has a cap hit of $595,000 for next season.

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Gustavsson’s been great this year, but is his time up in Detroit? (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

The Kids

Boy, the kids have been something else this year. They have excited Wings fans with their sheer brilliance, competitiveness, and enthusiasm. Every single youngster should be re-signed. Sheahan, Tatar, DeKeyser, and Glendening should remain with the Wings. Since all are restricted free agents, the Wings could issue the qualifying offers to each of them. However, the Wings may look to negotiate a longer term contract with Sheahan, Tatar, and DeKeyser. I’d imagine that Sheahan will get a 3-year, $7.5 million contract with an average cap hit of $2.5 million. Tatar will be looking at 3-years, $9 million for a cap hit of $3 million and DeKeyser will likely be looking at 3-years, $10 million based on the going rate for defensemen. I will input their contracts in as such. Glendening will get a similar length contract but it will probably be closer to 3-years, $3 million for a $1 million cap hit. The other kids (Almquist, Callahan, Ferraro) should be re-signed but will be sent down to Grand Rapids.

The Kyle Quincey Headache

In 2012, the Red Wings traded a 1st-round pick and a prospect to get Kyle Quincey back from Colorado. Now? The Wings would be lucky to get a 3rd-round pick for him. Quincey is the 2nd highest paid defenseman on the Wings, but clearly is not worth that. He has been far too error-prone and has not provided the level of offense expect of him. The Wings would be best served to cut ties with Quincey and promote either Ryan Sproul or Xavier Ouellet from Grand Rapids. I would vote for Sproul as he has chipped in 10 goals and 20 assists for the Griffins this year in just 49 games. Sproul has a cap hit of $620,000 for next season.

Detroit Red Wings Kyle Quincey - Photo By Andy Martin Jr
Detroit Red Wings Kyle Quincey – Photo By Andy Martin Jr

Summary of Recommendations

I went through a lot of information there, so here is a summary of what I’m suggesting


Daniel Alfredsson, 1 year, $4.75 million

Riley Sheahan, 3 years, $7.5 million

Tomas Tatar, 3 years, $9 million

Danny DeKeyser, 3 years, $10 million

Luke Glendening, 3 years, $3 million

Rest of kids at two-way minor league contracts


Todd Bertuzzi

Danny Cleary

Mikael Samuelsson

Kyle Quincey

Jonas Gustavsson

Cory Emmerton


Ryan Sproul

Petr Mrazek

(Mark Newman/Flickr)
Ryan Sproul, left, may get his chance full-time with the Wings next year (Mark Newman/Flickr)

Projected Line Combinations

Line 1: Henrik Zetterberg – Pavel Datsyuk – Gustav Nyquist

Line 2: Johan Franzen – Stephen Weiss – Daniel Alfredsson

Line 3: Tomas Tatar – Riley Sheahan – Justin Abdelkader

Line 4: Luke Glendening – Darren Helm – Drew Miller

Extras: Joakim Andersson, Tomas Jurco (should be sent down to Grand Rapids – he’s still exempt from waivers)

Defense 1: Niklas Kronwall – Jonathan Ericsson

Defense 2: Danny DeKeyser – Brendan Smith

Defense 3: Brian Lashoff – Ryan Sproul

Extra: Jakub Kindl

Goaltenders: Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek


That’s my initial plan for the Wings. This plan would put them with a 23-man roster that has a cap payroll of $65,557,045 with $5.5 million in cap space. That cap space could be used to push for a top-four defenseman, or as Ken Holland normally likes to do, he can save it for the trade deadline to pick up a player that may be needed. Either way, the Wings are in a good position moving forward and Wings fans can be excited for the future.

20 thoughts on “The Detroit Red Wings Offseason Gameplan”

  1. I think Quincy could be offered a contract of $3M for 2 or 3 yrs but I believe he will try free agency instead. My problem with Quincy is that he is inconsistent and he takes way too many penalties.

    When you consider that the Wings gave up 58 goals over the regular season in the 1st period and 67 goals in the 2nd period, but then gave up 90 goals in the 3rd period you know something went horribly wrong somewhere.

    I think that the Wings need to figure that problem out and solve it for next season.

  2. Prashanth, you’re my new favorite author. I like your front office interest in hockey. Are you the kind of fan who plays NHL ’14 and sims the whole season just to play GM in the offseason?
    (Not that either of us have time for video games…)

    • Haha that’s exactly true! I love making trades, signing key free agents, and managing in-house talent.

  3. Have you thought about writing an article projecting the depth chart of the Grand Rapids Griffins next year?
    It may look interesting with possible additions of Mantha and Athanasio. And possibly, Nastasiuk, Bertuzzi, and Janmark. The recent success of the Griffins and their players playing so well when entering the NHL, it could be an interesting article. Although, I don’t believe they would be even close as successful with out Blashill and Mrazek.

    • Hey Jared,

      I’ll definitely look into it and get that article up later in the week. Look for it around Friday.

  4. Good article, love your breakdown. Here’s my take.
    Alfredsson should not be signed again. Too old, and injury prone. Jurco should be up for good, there is no reason he should be back down in the minors, even though he can be sent down, without going on waivers. He’s a big body, who can skate, and score.
    Legwand, would be a better fit than Weiss, but can’t see Wings, getting rid of Weiss, so Legwand is gone.
    I’m not a fan of Kindl, but were stuck with him for the next 3yrs. Quincey is not one of my favs either, but has played well this year. Do they resign him? Only if he takes a paycut, which I don’t see, so he walks.
    So we need to sign another D. I say go for Niskanen from Pittsburgh, a year younger than Quincey, and much better offense, shoots right, probably can get him for 3-4/yr.
    As for the young D. I say bring up Ouellet. Much more sound than Sproul, he makes way to many mistakes.
    So here’s my lineup

    Miller-Helm-Andersson Extra Glendening

    Niskanen-Kindl Extra Ouellet

    That’s my wishlist, it’s not to far fetched. As for Niskanen, Pittsburgh has at least 3 D that are NHL ready, and I can see them letting him walk.

    • Hey Cary,

      Thanks for the read! I definitely think the addition of Niskanen is a possibility. The Wings will have around $6 million in cap space if they follow the gameplan I outlined so they could easily afford Niskanen. I’d much rather have him than Quincey, but if Quincey is willing to take a one-year deal at a cheaper price, I would lean that way so we can get our young guys up in 2015-2016. I agree that Alfie is old, but he’s earned the right to get another contract here if he wants one. But if Alfie decides to retire, then Jurco definitely will get his full-time spot. Jurco’s possession numbers have been off the chart.

  5. Did you see Glendening’s contract extension today? South of both of our numbers. I think the guys just happy to be in the NHL/with the Wings. Still, props to Holland.

    • Yep just saw that! Glad that we locked him up for 3 years at a very reasonable price. Gives the Wings more cap space to work with this offseason

    • I talked about Jurco very briefly so it’s understandable if you missed it. Essentially, I don’t see a full-time roster spot for him yet. The kid is still 21 years old and in my personal opinion would be better served seeing 18 minutes a night on Grand Rapids top line as opposed to seeing 7-8 minutes a night on Detroit’s 4th line. I think he would be the first player to come up from Grand Rapids if there was an injury but for now, because he’s exempt from waivers, I think he gets sent back down.

  6. People who are saying we shouldn’t play Miller are morons. Miller is our best penalty killer, and he plays “heavy” as Babcock likes to say, driving possession and putting a ton of shots on net.

    But about the actual article:

    – I agree Jurco will get sent down until the soonest injury, similar to what we did with Nyquist this past season. Once he comes up though, he should come to stay.

    – 4 million is still too much for Alfredsson. The man will be 42 and his points total is very much a product of playing with Datsyuk and Zetterberg early in the year. I’d pay 3 million plus bonuses, no more. If he wants a cup, which is why he came, he’ll gladly defer pay I think.

    – I would like Legwand back very much, but I understand we have a logjam at the center position. My proposal is to trade Stephen Weiss for some draft picks (or a second pair D-Man, if anyone is crazy enough to take that trade), and slot Legwand in at the second line center spot. They are similar ages, we’ve actually SEEN how Legwand can produce in the system, whereas Weiss slumped hard then got hurt, and is much more of a risk in my opinion. Especially considering Legwand would be cheaper, for a variety of reasons including age and hopefully a hometown discount.

    Also his resigning becomes a possibility if Alfredsson retires or goes elsewhere.

    – Quincey will be resigned. I don’t hate it as much as most, I don’t love it either. Quincey is undervalued, for every mistake he makes he also makes a couple pretty great plays, and he’ll get a pay cut probably. I think this is more due to the fact that there isn’t anyone in the free agent market who is a top four D-Man who is worth the money they’d be looking for, other than Dan Boyle who could probably be signed pretty cheap for a short term. Doubt he leaves the Sharks though.

    – Agree with the commenter who said he’d like Glendening to be paid under a million. I know Babcock loves him, but I’m not convinced that Glendening has much of a future, especially not as prospects like Jurco, Callahan, Pulkinnen, Mantha, Natasiuk, Athanasiou, maybe Frk, etc. start knocking on the door.

    – I think if we can sign Gustavsson for one year we should do it. Mrazek would do well with more playing time, which he’d get in the minors.

    My proposal for lines:

    Extras: Jurco, Andersson

    Extra: Kindl, bring up Marchenko first please.

    And if we for some reason resign Legwand and don’t move Weiss, I say we put Weiss as the fourth line center to start, seeing how A. Babcock fourth lines play more than most and B. That’s where he produced the most.

    • Hey thanks for the reply. You are definitely right in the sense that paying Alfredsson $4.75 million would be too much. However, Ken Holland is kind of in a tough spot here and since he does have pretty sizable cap flexibility, I would think he’d be ok shelling out a little more for Alfie to stay. In terms of Legwand, I wish we could trade Weiss. I really do. Unfortunately, there are zero takers for a center that was injured the entire season and is getting paid $5 mil over the next 4 years. If Ken Holland can get any sort of decent return for him, it would be a miracle. With it being so unlikely for Weiss to move, I don’t think you can sign Legwand. I also absolutely agree with you that if we can get Gustavsson for 1 year, I’d love that, but based on his performance this season, he may be looking for a longer term, higher money deal. Finally, as I mentioned in a comment below, I would love Quincey back at $2.75 mil a year for maybe 2 years. I think our young D-men would be best served to get another year or two of seasoning and this contract would buy us that time. Thanks for the comment!

  7. Additionally, I agree with you about letting Quincey and Legwand go, but I get the feeling that Prashanth wouldn’t mind if Quincey resigned for a considerably less amount. You’re right, he’s not worth what we traded him for and he’s not worth what we’re paying him for, but he’d be worth it at a certain dollar. I’d accept $2.5-2.75 million for one year.

    With Legwand, I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they resigned him, but I would rather see Helm take over the second line center. Oh, wait… Stephen Weiss… Who’s that?

    • You’re absolutely right. If we could keep Quincey at a 2-year, $5 mil deal with a cap hit of $2.5 million I would definitely be for that because I do agree that Sproul needs another year of seasoning. However, out of all the prospects I’ve watched, I feel that Sproul and Marchenko are the most NHL-ready but Sproul brings the offense that the Wings sorely need from the blue line.

  8. Wow, there’s so much here, and I agree with almost every single point! Great research and article!

    The two areas where I barely disagree are with Luke Glendening’s salary and Ryan Sproul’s promotion.

    Glendening’s numbers and contribution are comparable, yet a little less than Justin Abdelkader’s back in 2009-’10 before he was given a 2 year contract with a cap hit of $787.5k. I’d like to see Glendening’s numbers closer to that contract.

    Ryan Sproul currently has a -1 (+/-). A top-line defenseman should have that stat padded a little more than that. I think Ryan Sproul would do good to have another year of AHL top-line experience rather than 3rd line minutes in the NHL.

    Otherwise, I strongly agree with Mrazek’s promotion. We could even see him compete for Jimmy’s starting job.

    You didn’t mention anything about Teemu Pulkkinen. I could also side with letting Drew Miller go with guys like Pulkkinen and Jurco behind him, but maybe that’s conversation for 2015.

    Again, great article!

    • Hey Jared,

      Thanks for the kind words on the article. You’re right I didn’t touch on Pulkkinen. To me, he’s still a one-trick pony. In the games that he played with Detroit, the only thing I noticed was his shot but I did not notice him impacting the game in other areas. He still needs another year of seasoning in Grand Rapids with the coaches working on his two-way game. He looks for his offense too much for my liking so I think he’s a year away. Also, Miller’s contract isn’t up until 2016, so I don’t really see us getting rid of him because he’s a pretty good value for his contract. I think we don’t see Pulkkinen full-time until the 2015-2016 season.

  9. Good Article. I agree with almost everything except letting Emmerton go and playing Miller over Jurco. Emmerton is a cheap plug who fills in well during times of need. If he’s OK with league minimum, give it to him. Jurco is a stud. Not playing him is downright foolish.

    • Yea Jurco is definitely a stud, but the problem is that Miller is locked up for the next two seasons and Jurco just doesn’t fit in on the bottom two lines. He’s a tough omission but I think he gains more experience by playing on the 1st line Grand Rapids instead of the 4th line in Detroit and then he’ll be ready to compete for a full-time spot in the 2015-2016 season.

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