Before anyone considers what unrestricted free agent forwards Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman might pursue, the question that needs to be answered: Why would a free agent come to Detroit?
Not always, but generally the money is similar no matter where the player signs. With some older players, an NHL team may get their attention by offering an extra year to their contract.
But what most free agents are looking for is the gig money to play a starring role in a Stanley Cup contender. The Red Wings can provide the money and a chance to play a starring role. But they may not be in contention for another three seasons. Not what a player in their late twenties or early thirties wants to hear.
As a rebuilding team, the Red Wings won’t be chasing older stars like Patrice Bergeron, Evgeni Malkin and Claude Giroux. But the Red Wings need help at center, and they wouldn’t mind another scorer.
“So much uncertainty, and then we had free agency on July 13,” Yzerman said. “I have this nice list of great players who would be a good fit for our organization. Can I get any of these players? I have no idea at this stage.
The Red Wings won’t take a deep dive into free agents. It’s too early. But Steve Yzerman knows his team needs to be more competitive than it was last season.
Here are some potential unrestricted forwards the Red Wings could consider:
Vince Trocheck Center, Carolina Hurricanes
He has Michigan roots. Born in Pittsburgh, moved to Detroit at age 13. Performed in the Little Caesars program. His Ontario Hockey League career was spent in Saginaw and Plymouth. More importantly, he has scored 51 points this season. He has scored 20 or more goals on four occasions. Trocheck also recorded 185 hits this season. Would be a significant upgrade over Pius Suter at center No. 2. Trocheck offers courage and fire. Very good on faceoffs. He’s been 54.4% for Carolina the past three seasons. Quality defensive player. Difficult to play against. The downside is that he will be 29 this summer.
Center or wing Andrew Copp, New York Rangers
Grew up in Ann Arbor. Played quarterback for Ann Arbor Skyline. But he was more accomplished in hockey. Played at the University of Michigan. He’s 6-foot-1, 210 pounds and the Red Wings want more height at No. 2 center. Copp can play all three forward positions. Maybe he wants to perform in front of his friends and family. The downside is that he has played extremely well with the New York Rangers since they acquired him from Winnipeg. Rumor has it that Rangers will make him a big offer after the season. He enjoyed his stay there.
Center or left wing Nick Paul, Tampa Bay Lightning
He’s a 6-foot-3, 228-pound forward who has scored 16 goals and 106 hits this season. He could give the Red Wings more bite while participating offensively. He only earned $1.5 million last season. The Lightning probably can’t afford to sign him, although they could move players to keep him.
Double hit on Nick Paul pic.twitter.com/9EiSmNKrMI
— alberto (@twistedleafs) May 7, 2022
Right wing Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
File this one under long shots. Top contenders will pursue him. But the Red Wings have the leeway to pay him the salary the Predators don’t seem to want to give him. The Red Wings can also play the Swedish card. He could be part of a team that has six or seven Swedes in a few seasons.
Center Ryan Strome, New York Rangers
Averaged 54 points per season over the past three seasons for the Rangers. Had his best result this season with 21 goals. But he plays with Artemi Panarin. How much does that inflate his numbers? Strome definitely has talent.
Left winger Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
He is 31 years old, but he is a regular offensive player. Palat had 49 points last season. Yzerman knows him well from his days as general manager of Tampa Bay. Assuming Palat believes in what Yzerman can do, could Palat be a short-term fix on a short-term deal?
Left or right winger Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche
He’s 6-foot-4 and the Red Wings want to add some height. He is 27 years old and his game is just beginning. Intriguing roll of the dice. He had 25 goals and 89 hits last season. You might not have to break the bank to land it. He is coming out of a $2.5 million contract.
Left or right winger Andre Burakovsky, Colorado Avalanche
He just turned 27 three months ago and has averaged 20 goals per season in his last three seasons with Colorado. He is 6-3 and has 61 points this season.
Right wing Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto Maple Leafs
The 27-year-old former KHL undrafted player just keeps getting better. He’s scored 21 goals this season for the Maple Leafs, who may not have enough room to keep him. The 6-2 striker scored his 21 goals in an average of 15 minutes per game. Like to hit.
Ilya Mikheyev is my favorite player in this series so far. never misses a chance to throw a hit so far in this playoff. Has 11 hits in 3 games. Had 52 hits in 53 games this season.
— Rob (@Robs_hot_takes) May 7, 2022
Left winger Andrei Kuzmenko, St. Petersburg, KHL
Reports indicate that at least 20 teams are pursuing the undrafted free agent from the Kontinental Hockey League. Surely the Red Wings have some interest. Kuzmenko has 20 goals and 53 points in 45 games this season. He is only 26 years old. The downside is that KHL players seem to have mixed results. Some of the best KHL players are successful in the NHL and some are not. Additionally, reports have linked Kuzmenko to Vancouver, Edmonton, Nashville and Toronto. There is no mention of the Red Wings.
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