The Detroit Red Wings don’t need to hit the restart button this summer. The refresh button ought to do.
But general manager Ken Holland will be busy, especially if venerable defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom follows through on his annual threat to retire.
New Jersey Devils winger Zach Parise and Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter could hit the free agent marketplace. Both would be attractive additions, although both would attract widespread interest if they leave their original teams.
Can the Red Wings afford to get in a crazy bidding war for talent?
They could have $15 million to $16 million in cap space in Lidstrom stays and $22 million if he leaves. Several veterans have expiring contracts, including Brad Stuart ($3.75 million) Jiri Hudler ($2.875 million cap hit) and Tomas Holmstrom ($1.875 million).
So the answer is yes.
“We have lots of cap space, and there'll be players available July 1,” Holland told the Detroit Free Press. “We're going to look at free agency, but the NHL is so tight now. The days of us having way more depth than the opposition or one extra star, those are over for everybody. It's a league that's very, very close.”
Holland needs to evaluate whether goaltender Jimmy Howard can lead his team forward. This franchise has gone for short-term veteran help before and it could go that way again. Or it could try to do something much, much bigger.