Believe it or not, back on Feb. 21 the Detroit Red Wings sat atop the NHL standings, which was business as usual.
Since that time, it has been anything but business as usual for one of the league’s premier franchises.
Injuries during the second half of season, another playoff disappointment, a game-changing retirement and a summer of being jilted by big-name free agents have left many in the Motor City in a sheer panic.
Based on my e-mails, voice-mail messages and everyday talk on the street I’ve encountered, there’s an overwhelming concern about this hockey team.
“What are the Red Wings doing, I mean, do you know what their plan is?”
I’ve been asked this over and over and over again during this offseason.
Detroit has had to modify its plan several times. Once Ryan Suter fell through, the Wings were working on a deal for Shea Weber, only to be crossed up by the Flyers’ offer sheet, which threw them for a loop.
Columbus had zero intention of trading Rick Nash to Detroit; Zach Parise never considered the Wings as a landing destination; Detroit had no interest in Alexander Semin; and Shane Doan wants the moon and stars to be lured away from Phoenix — something the Wings are unwilling to do. As much as the Wings desire Doan, it’s their defense that needs immediate attention.
This is my educated guess on what the remainder of the offseason will bear for the Wings, who seemingly lack the resources to pull off a trade for top-tier players such as Phoenix’s Keith Yandle and Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan:
The Wings will sign former Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and then wait for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There are some in the Wings organization who believe the cap under the new CBA will be around $10 million less than it is now, forcing teams to buy out contracts in a salary dump. Under this scenario, the Wings could sign a few quality players at a discount rate because several contending teams would be over the cap.
Still others in the organization feel the cap will remain frozen at $70 million for the next few years under the new CBA, which means there will not be a frenzy of activity once a new agreement is reached.
Any way you look at it, this upcoming season will pose a challenge for the Red Wings. Their playoff, 100-point and home-sellout streaks are all in jeopardy.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland and his staff remain committed to assembling the best team possible, which is easier said than done when you’re rapidly running out of options.