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What’s Next for Red Wings With No Parise or Suter?

July 4, 2012

Hockey

The Zach Parise and Ryan Suter adventures are over.  The two coveted UFAs decided to take their talents to the Minnesota Wild, each of them signing 13 year, $90 million contracts that will keep them there until their age-40 seasons.

Social media bore out the collective groans from fans across the NHL as news broke on the 4th of July that the two Americans would play for Parise’s hometown team.  Detroit Red Wings fans were particularly stunned at the decision, as many had tossed their hopes in Parise and Suter’s proverbial baskets.

In the end, Minneapolis native Parise decided to play in his home state, and Suter decided to go with him.

For all the fans who preached about how great this team would be when the Wings added Parise and/or Suter, there were very few who cautioned patience.  Or a backup plan.  The growing sense of dread and devastation as the days dragged on until the 4th became suffocating in Motown.

Still, the Wings have already been active in free agency.  They added backup goaltender Alexander Gustafsson, securing a position that has been a problem for the Wings lately.  They also signed forward Damien Brunner, who could compete for a roster spot right away.  Mikael Samuelsson is back and tough guy Jordin Tootoo has been added, too.

Though adding a top-tier forward would have been nice, getting the elite defender was borderline essential for the Wings.  Not signing Parise would have stunk, but life goes on.  Suter was the important one, and he got away too.

Matt Carle (PHI) is a UFA.  He’s in that next group down, and should command a decent contract.  The Wings might want to give his representatives a call and see what kind of price he’s demanding.

Why not post an offer sheet on Shea Weber?  I know Wings fans don’t like him too much because of the hit on Henrik Zetterberg, but he’s scored 15+ goals in each of his last four seasons.  He can toss the body around and will be solid on the power play, too.  Still, the Wings don’t like to get into the offer sheet business very much and that will likely keep them out of the mix on him.

As for a top flight forward, I’m not sure that the Wings should look to deal out too much money.  The team has been linked to Alexander Semin in a couple of media reports, but the success of that deal entirely depends on what kind of money they offer him.  Semin has a reputation as a bit of a head case, and his production has been inconsistent, but he’s still good for 50-60 points a season.  If you pay him as such over a three or four year contract, it could be a good value buy for Detroit.

Otherwise, the Wings are loaded on forwards.  The team’s website lists 16 forwards on the roster.  Semin would make it 17.  The team still needs to add a defenseman, and figure out roles for the newly signed players.

Brunner’s two-way contract means that you can shuttle him back and forth from Grand Rapids.  According to this report at Rotoworld.com, the team wants to give Gustav Nyquist a crack at being a top-6 forward, which means somebody else gets bumped out of the lineup too.  Waving farewell to Jiri Hudler helps clear some of the mess, but it’s still a logjam at forward for the Wings, even if they don’t add another guy.

Ultimately, the team didn’t land the two top talents it wanted.  That’s fine, but fans need to come to terms with the fact that there are 29 other teams in this league.  Not every player is looking for the same things in their careers, and not all of them see similar opportunities in a given locale.  Parise and Suter have chosen to go elsewhere.  Now it’s time to ask what’s next and get to it.  This team isn’t perfect, and there’s a lot of work to get done to elevate them to a Stanley Cup contender.  Losing these two guys doesn’t take a team out of contention.  Not following the decision up with smart acquisitions will KO a team for a long time.

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About mattpocket

I am the Sports Director at 88.3 FM WXOU Radio, out of Oakland University. I am the play-by-play voice of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. I've been to two NCAA Tournaments, been heard on ESPN, and won 9 Michigan Association of Broadcasters Awards. Follow me on Twitter. @cornerpocket422 You can tune in to The Corner Pocket every Friday from 3-5 pm with my cohost Bryan and Everson and myself, featuring the best guests, such as Dave Birkett, Jim Nill, and Bruce Buffer.

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