Red Wings ‘Ask Ansar’ questions: Lack of moves in off-season has fans asking what happened

It has been an off-season of discontent for many Detroit Red Wings fans who fear their team’s two-decade run of excellence could be coming to an end.

First, seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom retired. Then, fellow top-four defenseman Brad Stuart, not surprisingly, signed with San Jose.

Still, many fans had high hopes heading into free agency. The Red Wings had plenty of salary-cap space (roughly $18 million) and, despite a thin market, had their sights set at reeling in the biggest fish – defensemen Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise.

Both, however, signed with the Minnesota Wild.

As the days passed, the few quality free agents that remained went elsewhere, and trade talks with several teams have yet to yield results.

The Red Wings filled some needs on July 1 by signing forwards Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Damien Brunner and backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.

But, they expected to do much more. So did their worried fans, who are asking what happened, and what’s going to happen now?

Q. After all the talk about the Wings having so much money to spend in the off-season, why didn’t they? They are much softer now than they ever were. –Gary.

A. They offered Suter $88 million. He strongly considered Detroit. They offered Parise $73 million. I don’t believe he ever wanted to come to Detroit.

Should they have paid either of them more than the $98 million Minnesota dished out? I don’t think so. The other thing to keep in mind is these players wanted to play closer to home.

They weren’t interested in overpaying for defensemen like Dennis Wideman (five years/$26.25 million with Calgary) and Matt Carle (six years/$33 million with Tampa Bay). Jason Garrison signed with Vancouver while they were pursuing Suter.

They want Shane Doan, but not at the money some teams reportedly are offering (four years/$30 million by Buffalo). They weren’t the only team reluctant to sign Alexander Semin (one year/$7 million with Carolina), which tells you something.

They made what they believe was a great offer for Rick Nash, but Columbus wasn’t going to trade him to Detroit (he was dealt to the New York Rangers). They pursued restricted free agent Shea Weber but weren’t given the chance to tender an offer sheet (he signed an offer sheet with Philadelphia, which Nashville matched). And they made a pitch for Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz, but he picked Edmonton.

They have had trade talks with Phoenix and Calgary for Keith Yandle and Jay Bouwmeester, respectively, but those livejasmin clubs aren’t prepared to part with those players yet, apparently.

So, what more should they have done? Just because you have money to spend doesn’t mean you should overpay a mediocre player and get hamstrung by a bad contract.

Q. Do (general manager) Ken Holland and the Wings’ brass deserve all of the heat they have taken for not being able to sign that top-tier free agent or make a blockbuster trade this offseason? Does the lack of movement really mean (according to a few posters here) that Ken Holland isn’t as sharp or savvy as he used to be, and that without changes to the Wings’ front office, this team is somehow going to become the New York Islanders? Can a team still have one of the best GMs in the league without being one of the best teams?

A. I don’t think the heat is warranted. They tried. They flew to Wisconsin to make a pitch to Suter and were prepared to travel to Toronto to talk to Parise and his agent before that meeting was canceled. Maybe you can criticize them for not taking a chance on Semin, but it says a lot that a joyourself player of his caliber wasn’t scooped up shortly after July 1 and received only a one-year deal. The front office doesn’t need any changes, and any comparison to the Islanders is ludicrous.

Q. Is there any realistic chance that a Yandle or a Doan or whoever could still make it to the Wings, or would the price (money and assets) be too much? —Saskatoon Wingnut.

A. I don’t think they have (or would be willing to part with) the assets to acquire Yandle, and I’m not convinced the Coyotes will even move him. If Doan decides to leave Phoenix, he’ll likely get a four-year deal in excess of $6 million per season. That’s more than the Red Wings would give him. I think the Red Wings’ best hopes of acquiring a higher-end player is through a salary dump, since several teams could be over the cap if it is lowered in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Q. If the Wings were to execute a trade to obtain a defenseman, who do you think Holland would be willing to give up?

A. That’s the problem they face in trying to make a significant deal. Who do you give up? They’re not in a position to lose a defenseman. Plus, a team looking to deal a quality defenseman probably wants a top-six forward in return. The Red Wings have two such potential trade pieces – Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula. But if you move one of them to plug a hole on defense, it just creates a hole up front. Can a team that’s had trouble scoring in the playoffs afford to get rid of a 30-goal scorer (Franzen) or a 65-70 point man (Filppula)? I don’t think so. Had they signed Doan or another top-six free-agent forward, then they might have dealt one of those players for a top-pair defenseman. As it stands, if they deal for a top-four defenseman, they’ll have to mytrannycams package a bottom six forward and a prospect or draft pick.

source: mlive . com / redwings/2012/09/red_wings_ask_ansar_questions_5.html