Winged Pride was having a really interesting thought this Thanksgiving. What do the Wings do with their last compliance buyout this offseason. Winged Pride has identified a few options and this article will explore the options that Winged Pride has found. Let's start with how many open roster spots will exist next year. Disclaimer: Winged Pride is well aware of how early this article is being written, but its always fun to think about the future, especially since this blog focuses on the future more than the present.
Let's start with the forwards. Players who will need new contracts at the end of the year are Alfredsson, Samuelsson, Bertuzzi, Cleary, Eaves, and Tatar. Out of this list the only player that should be considered a lock to get a new deal is Tatar. Alfredsson probably either retires or stays with the Wings. But I would guess at this point that he retires. Samuelsson and Cleary are gone and Winged Pride would be absolutely floored if they were brought back next year. Winged Pride would prefer if Bertuzzi were not resigned but could live with another year of him if he performs decently this year. Eaves is someone that the Wings will probably only keep if they feel like their waiver exempt players aren't going to be good enough to make the team. The Wings don't really have a need or a use for him anymore(evidenced by his waiving then demotion). He will land somewhere else as a good depth player and fill a good role, but that role is most likely not with the Red Wings going forward. So now, this leaves the Wings with 10 forwards going into next year(Tatar is included in this number).T here will be four open forward spots to fill next year. There are 3 players who are out of waiver exemptions next year, Mitch Callahan, Riley Sheahan, and Landon Ferraro so those guys will have to either be brought up to the team, or they will be risked to being snatched up on waivers. Sheahan will make the team, no way he makes it through waivers. Ferraro and Callahan probably would, and the Wings probably wouldn't mind losing them due to their forward logjam and depth in the coming years if they got claimed. So that leaves three spots. If Jurco continues his dominance he is probably coming up next year as well. The same goes for Jarnkrok. 1 spot left. It could go to Alfredsson, Eaves, Bertuzzi, Glendenning, or maybe a free agent.
That brings us back to the title of the article. Who gets the last buyout. Winged Pride wants it to be Weiss. People often times say Tootoo or Franzen, but if Helm continues to play as well as he is currently then that takes away Weiss and his value to the team.. Adding onto that, if Zetterberg, Nyquist and Franzen continue their dominance then Dastyuk would center the other top line instead of going to Zetterberg's line once he returns from injury. I can't see Babcock messing with the Zetterberg line at this point. They have been absolutely dominant. Helm will move down to the third line once Dastyuk returns which should be sometime next week. That leaves Weiss the center of the fourth line. No matter how effective he is on the fourth line, he isn't worth 5 million a year. He won't produce playing with Cleary and Samuelsson and a player like Sheahan, Jarnkrok, or Andersson would fit the bottom 6 role much better than he would. Most likely Helm will deviate back to his norm and he will return to being a very good 3rd line center not able to pull off the top 6 role. If the Zetterberg line starts to go in a slump Babcok might trade Nyquist for Weiss and put the Euro Twins back together, returning to the top 6 at the beginning of the year. That would make the third line absolutely dominant. Tatar, Helm, and Nyquist would absolutely dominate any other third line in the league and are probably good enough to be a top 6 line on many teams in the NHL. Winged Pride would love that, but they wouldn't get enough playing time due to their inability to match up defensively against other lines from other teams, they would only get about 12 minutes a game. Not nearly enough for how much talent they would have. We are about a quarter of the way through this season, and Stephen Weiss needs to step his game up if he wants to stay.
To close this out, Winged Pride would be extremely surprised if anyone other than Tootoo got this buyout. But thinking out of the box is a really fun to do during the middle of the year.