Ok, so it is a little premature to call the Red Wings season over, but after crapping the bed last night the fat lady is definitely getting her obituary ready. And really that shouldn’t be all that shocking given how up and down the team has played all season. However, given how weirdly disjointed their peformance has been in this series it smarts. That is not to say the miracle couldn’t happen, it’s just the comeback would be historic.
Given that the season is on life support, my thoughts are more focused on the offseason, which now becomes the most important in Holland’s tenure. At this moment Detroit has approximately 16 million in cap space. However, ten million of that is from the expiring contracts of Holmstrom and Lidstrom. Oddly enough if you asked me which player saw the bigger dip this season I’d say Lidstrom. Don’t get me wrong, Nick still played at a high level, but not at his typical Lidstrom level. Homer meanwhile played his role and got his twenty goals. If I was to be totally objective, I would offer Homer a one year deal worth about the same, or a little less, to his current deal — so around $2mil — Lidstrom I would tell “we’ll pay you what you want because you’re the best defenseman in team history, but please consider asking for less for the good of the team.” Ideally he will feel the same and take a deal in the 4-5 million range. That still won’t give the team much wiggle room with the cap since they have to pay the returning Jiri Hudler 2.5 mil, but it gets them closer. The team should also look long and hard at signing Jimmy Howard to a long-term extension. His current deal expires after next season at which point he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
The problem Detroit faces is that they are so close to the cap they lack the flexibility to get what they desperately need, secondary scoring. Hopefully next season Franzen will stay healthy and produce. Maybe the light has clicked with Filpulla and he can be a strong 2nd line player. And most importantly, one or more of the young players Detroit has stashed away in Grand Rapids will blossom at the NHL level. If any of those happen then the Wings will be legit contenders next year. If not, it looks like another year of scuffling for a playoff spot.