Valtteri Filppula has two more years with a $3 million cap hit left on his current contract. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)
In the days following the Detroit Red Wings’ elimination from the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, GM Ken Holland acknowledged changes would be coming to his roster this summer.
But Wings fans shouldn't expect major changes as Holland said he’d prefer to “tweak” his lineup to make it more competitive for next season.
According to Capgeek.com the Red Wings currently have a little more than $46.8 million committed to 15 players.
Despite the available cap space, Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press suggested Holland would have to move salary if his plan is to bring in a quality player. She listed centers Jiri Hudler and Valtteri Filppula as the most likely trade candidates.
Ansar Khan of Mlive.com also noted the possibility of Hudler or Filppula being traded this summer. He believes the Wings need to re-tool their defense and wondered if Holland would try to acquire young Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Zach Bogosian via trade rather than offer sheet.
Khan also expected team captain Nicklas Lidstrom would return for another season at the same salary ($6.2 million) he earned in 2010-11.
Gregg Krupa of The Detroit News, meanwhile, feels Detroit’s only real need is another goal-scorer, but he doesn’t expect the team to pursue an expensive free agent, such as Dallas Stars center Brad Richards. Krupa believes Washington's two-way center Brooks Laich would be a good UFA addition.
This season was almost certainly Mike Modano's last as he recently told the Dallas Morning News his playing days are likely over and expressed his wish to return to Dallas and get a job within the Stars organization.
However, Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal raised a valid point regarding the Wings’ core players. He noted they aren't getting any younger and pointed out that only Filppula and Jimmy Howard are less than 30 years old. He also believes the long years of playoff battles are catching up with Detroit’s veterans.
Matheson believes the Wings must get younger along the blueline, but noted that pursuing someone such as Bogosian in a trade would likely mean parting with Filppula.
Holland has done a fine job over the years keeping the Wings competitive despite losing star talents such as Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Sergei Fedorov to retirement or free agency, so it would be foolish to bet against the GM’s ability to continue that trend.
Still, the next couple of years will present Holland with his biggest challenge yet.
After spending the past three seasons with Avangard Omsk of Russia's Kontinental League, former NHL star Jaromir Jagr is an unrestricted free agent, which has spurred talk of his possible return to the NHL.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic suggested it would be worthwhile for the Penguins to consider bringing Jagr back, but Kovacevic’s colleague, Shelly Anderson, cited sources who claimed Jagr had been in talks with several KHL teams, including SKA St. Petersburg, and at age 39 isn't seriously considering an NHL comeback.
While a return to the Penguins would bring Jagr's pro career full circle, it doesn't appear to be a real possibility.
The franchise has reportedly reached out to Jagr by extending an invitation to its alumni golf tournament this summer to commemorate the club's 1991 Stanley Cup championship team, but that appears to be extent of their interest in him.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.