With 14 players set as free agents during the offseason, there is bound to be at least a bit of a roster shakeup. Nine of those FA’s are restricted – will Steve Yzerman decide to forgo a contract renewal for any of them?
Red Wings Should Be Keeping a Majority
The RFA’s are mostly players considered solid parts of the lineup. Tyler Bertuzzi, Jakub Vrana and Filip Hronek are all almost certainly going to be resigned. They are all considered as a part of Detroit’s future (Unless there is another Anthony Mantha type trade).
While not in the same level as the previous three in terms of impact, Gustav Lindstrom, Adam Erne and Michael Rasmussen are also safe bets to return to the team.
Lindstrom is still young at 22, and has shown plenty of promise in his eight games in Detroit (three assists). Plus, he’ll probably come on a short and/or cheap contract, as he hasn’t proven himself at the NHL level yet.
Michael Rasmussen has vastly improved this season. From fringe NHLer to a solid third line
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center, Big ‘Ras might have done just enough this year to get a solid contract. His production has yet to really take off (3 goals, 7 assists in 35 games) while he hasn’t played a full NHL season yet. Yzerman can probably get him cheap.
Adam Erne is interesting. His play definitely warrants a contract. Erne leads the team in goals and is third in points (8 goals, 11 assists in 43 games). Don’t be surprised if his contract ends up being short and expensive – at just 26, Erne could get some qualifying offers from teams around the league that force Yzerman to match. But with Erne’s production and Detroit’s cap space, he will probably end up back in the Winged Wheel next season.
Red Wings Future in Question
The three remaining players all have question marks: Evgeny Svechnikov, Dennis Cholowski and Christain Djoos.
Dennis Cholowski and Evgeny Svechnikov are both in very similar situations. They both swapped between the Griffins and the Red Wings this year (Svechnikov spent has played 18 games in Detroit, Cholowski has played 11) and the coaching staff still seems quite skeptical of their NHL ability (Svech average time on ice is 11:20, Cholowski stuck in the AHL for most of the season).
However, it seems Cholowski has started to fit in to the system a bit better of late. Improving his defensive skills to an NHL level has certainly been a struggle, as he’s made some glaring mistakes in some of his starts. But overall, Cholowski seems to be finding a spot on the team. If he doesn’t get stolen by Seattle in the entry draft, he’ll probably get resigned in hopes of a Rasmussen-like developmental season.
On the other hand, Svechnikov’s time in Detroit might be up. Being placed on waivers is not a great way to secure a new contract with the team. If he returns to the Wings, expect a cheap prove-it contract.
Christain Djoos is the RFA most likely to move on from Detroit. He seemed like a decent pick up after Yzerman claimed him off waivers, but of late, he has lost his spot on the lineup to Alex Biega, a fringe NHLer at his best. The only way Yzerman re-signs him is to bolster the Griffin’s defensive depth, or as a mainstay of the Taxi Squad. Djoos might try heading back to Sweden to try his hand in the Swedish Hockey League.