Red Wings day on PHT has been pretty positive so far, but that’s not to say it’s all optimism in Motown.
As of now, it’s unlikely that forwards Dan Cleary and Damien Brunner will be back with the club next season. Both players are unrestricted free agents; however, the Wings simply don’t have the space to fit them under the salary cap.
Cleary has been with the Wings since 2005, appearing in 121 playoff games (24G, 28A). This past postseason, the 34-year-old Newfoundland native finished second in team scoring behind Henrik Zetterberg, registering four goals and six assists in 14 games. Brunner, meanwhile, led all teammates with five postseason goals while also adding four assists.
One player who definitely won’t be back is Valtteri Filppula, as he signed with Tampa Bay. Filppula finished tied for fifth in team playoff scoring, with six points.
Add it up and that’s three of the Wings’ top six playoff point-getters from 2013 gone.
Obviously, some of that offense will be replaced by the additions of Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson. In fact, it’s possible those two more than make up for what walked out the door. It’s also hoped Mikael Samuelsson, Darren Helm and Todd Bertuzzi can stay healthy in 2013-14, and that some of the youngsters can step up and produce with some consistency.
But that hasn’t stopped some Wings fans from racking their brains, trying to figure out a way for general manager Ken Holland to bring Cleary and/or Brunner back. Trading Jordin Tootoo would free up a roster spot and some cap space, but would there be any takers for a 30-year-old, bottom-six forward with two years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $1.9 million?
According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, this is how the Wings’ forward lines could look next season:
Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Justin Abdelkader
Johan Franzen-Stephen Weiss-Daniel Alfredsson
Drew Miller-Darren Helm-Todd Bertuzzi
Gustav Nyquist-Joakim Andersson-Tomas Tatar
Mikael Samuelsson and one of Cory Emmerton, Patrick Eaves or Jordin Tootoo as the reserves.