The Detroit Red Wings have a lot of work to do this off-season if they wish to become a Stanley Cup contender in 2014-15.
Although the Red Wings aren’t expected to be major players on the free agent market, general manager Ken Holland said they will explore other options to improve their club.
“We’ll see what’s out there via trade,” Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “But we feel good about our team, and our fallback position is our kids. We’re trying to move kids in and also have the right amount of vets.”
Veteran unrestricted free agent forwards Todd Bertuzzi, David Legwand and Mikael Samuelsson will in all likelihood not return to the team next season, and Holland said he hasn’t heard from Daniel Alfredsson regarding whether or not the former Ottawa Senators captain plans on coming back.
In addition to those players, grinder Danny Cleary, defenceman Kyle Quincy and goalie Jonas Gustavsson are also pending UFAs.
With most or all of the aforementioned skaters on their way out of town, the Red Wings could aim to replace some of that veteran leadership, but Holland won’t sacrifice youth in order to get it.
“We like our kids. We have good young players who’ll play in the NHL for 10 to 15 years,” Holland told Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News. “I don’t want to get into trades where we’re sending two or three of those kids for a 32-year-old player.”
Last season, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan, Brendan Smith and Danny DeKeyser — all of whom are 25 or younger — had breakout seasons, and Holland hopes to build off that.
In other Red Wings news, the team locked up Jeff Blashill, head coach of their American Hockey League affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins, to a three-year contract. Some believe he could be a potential replacement for Mike Babcock if the winningest coach in Red Wings history leaves when his contract expires. Babcock has one year remaining on his current deal, and Holland said he will continue to have discussions with the Red Wings bench boss in the summer.