Submitted for your approval: Four years ago a general manager of an NHL hockey team stopped at a gas station and was interrupted by a phone call informing him that one of the top players in the league was willing to sign a one-year deal with his team. The general manager could not believe his good fortune.
Fast forward four years later, the same general manger was in an airplane flying to Wisconsin with the shaky hope of convincing a top player to sign a multiyear, mega-million-dollar deal with his team.
Watch out there’s an unrestricted free agent up ahead . . . welcome to the Red Wings Twilight Zone — a world of cash to burn and nobody to spend it on.
Now that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have each agreed to 13-year deals with the Minnesota Wild, the Wings are left scrambling.
It’s not a secret that Suter was on Detroit’s radar for the last couple of years, and his signing has to be a catastrophic blow, not only to the on-ice product but to the Red Wings’ collective ego.
Whatever the Wings do next, you can bet that owner Mike Ilitch will demand that it be big. Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan or one of the 12 apostles, it’ll be something that will re-energize Hockeytown.
Expect the Wings to go after unrestricted free-agent forward Alexander Semin with the hope that Pavel Datsyuk will be able to reel in the extremely talented, but totally enigmatic forward.
Unrestricted free-agent forward Shane Doan would be a great addition, and the Wings will pursue him. However, he’s the most popular athlete in Phoenix, and I don’t see him leaving the desert.
One of Doan’s teammates, Keith Yandle, is a strong trade possibility. Yandle, 25, is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds with a high skill set. He would fit into the Wings’ attacking style.
You have to believe that whatever the Coyotes are asking for Yandle, Detroit’s situation might make almost everybody in the organization available.
Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester could also be had in a trade, but he’s been labeled an underachiever who doesn’t play as big as he is, 6-foot-4, 212 pounds.
Even though the Red Wings need a solid, top-four defenseman, Bouwmeester might not be worth the risk. Still, he’s a quality player who could be a last resort.
As far as the rest of the unrestricted free-agent defensemen go, it’s slim pickings if you’re looking for a top-four guy. Matt Carle is out there, but the Wings aren’t sold on him — although that was yesterday and Suter’s gone.
They could sign the likes of a Scott Hannan, Sean O’Donnell or Michal Rozsival. All of them would provide a veteran to stabilize the defense, but like most of what’s left, their better days are behind them.
If there is a wild card in all of this, it could be restricted free-agent defenseman Shea Weber. No, Detroit will not sign him to an offer sheet, and it’s a given that Nashville will try to sign their restricted free-agent captain to a long-term deal.
But if Weber publicly comes out and says he’s one-and-done in Nashville or demands a trade, the Wings would give up the farm to land him. Again, it’s all up to Weber, how he reacts to the Suter signing could impact the Red Wings — although it’s a bit of a reach.
Today was a blow to a Detroit organization that has had its way for the last 20 years. Ilitch was turned down after a face-to-face meeting with Suter , and the Red Wings owner doesn’t experience that very often.
Everything about this offseason has had profound implications on the Wings. They’ve lost Nick Lidstrom, Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler. They believed that Suter was theirs, only to be jilted.
Detroit has always coveted stars because they sell tickets. Ilitch loves the draw of star power, and he will not sit idly by — unless the Wings are shot down at every turn.
They will continue to be aggressive, but they’re not calling the shots.
At Lidstrom’s retirement press conference, I asked Ken Holland this: If the Wings get completely shut out in free agency, would next season’s roster be younger and include some unproven NHL prospects?
Holland gave a “yeah, right” kind of look and said that it was a possibility.