As per usual, the Detroit Red Wings made the playoffs in 2010-11, and they even took the San Jose Sharks to 7 games in the Western Conference Semifinal. Hit with the unexpected retirement of Brian Rafalski, as well as the likely retirement of both Kris Draper and Chris Osgood, the Red Wings will look to get a bit younger heading into 2011-12 and beyond.
The Red Wings will need to decide quickly if they want to bank on Jimmy Howard as their #1, or if they want to spend a bit more money on a backup to have some insurance in the event that he proves to be inconsistent. On the backend; with Lidstrom coming back for another season, the expected re-signing of Jonathan Ericsson and the arrival of top prospect Brendan Smith, the loss of Rafalski should not be too detrimental to the Wings. Up front, the roster will pretty much look the same, with a few tweaks here and there. Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak will be the beneficiaries of the departures of Kris Draper and Drew Miller. There is, however, a hole that needs to be filled on the top 3 lines.
GM Ken Holland has a little over $13M in cap space to use on a backup goalie for Jimmy Howard, a defenseman to play the right side on the top pair with Lidstrom, and either Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Eaves or some other RW to play on the second or third line. The #1 priority is on D, and I’m sure that they will be looking at Wisniewski or Ehrhoff on July 1. If neither works out, they could also go the trade route.
DETROIT RED WINGS 2011-12 ROSTER (using CAPGEEK CAP CALCULATOR)
Henrik Zetterberg ($6.083m) / Pavel Datsyuk ($6.700m) / Todd Bertuzzi ($1.937m)
Tomas Holmstrom ($1.875m) / Valtteri Filppula ($3.000m) / Johan Franzen ($3.954m)
Daniel Cleary ($2.800m) / Jiri Hudler ($2.875m) / 3RD LINE RW ($0.000m)
Justin Abdelkader ($0.787m) / Darren Helm ($0.912m) / Jan Mursak ($0.550m)
Cory Emmerton ($0.533m)
Nicklas Lidstrom ($6.200m) / TOP 4 D-MAN ($0.000m)
Niklas Kronwall ($3.000m) / Brad Stuart ($3.750m)
Jonathan Ericsson ($2.250m EST) / Brendan Smith ($0.875m)
Jakub Kindl ($0.883m)
Jimmy Howard ($2.250m) / BACKUP GOALIE ($0.000m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000
CAP PAYROLL: $51,217,044
CAP SPACE: $13,082,956
Once again, the Detroit Red Wings can expect to be a playoff team in 2011-12. They will be well coached by Mike Babcock and an exciting team to watch for sure. Hopefully, whoever replaces Rafalski can have just as much of an impact as he did, because that will go a long way in determining whether Detroit will be good or great.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.