Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland doesn’t make a lot of missteps – and even when he does, his team still makes the playoffs. So even after telling the Macomb Daily that Hockeytown will not be the home of pending free agents Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson next season, Holland can rest assured that his careful planning over the years won’t put his team in a bad spot for 2014-15.
Samuelsson was on his second stint with Detroit, but played just four games during an injury-ravaged 2012-13 campaign. This season, the 37-year-old Swede suited up just 26 times, notching three points. Based on his age and fragility, this is probably the end of the line for the Stanley Cup winner.
And perhaps the same can be said for Bertuzzi. At 39, he played in just 59 games – hampered by a shoulder injury, but also scratched when he was healthy on numerous occasions. In fact, he played in just one of Detroit’s five playoff games against Boston and you would think a big, nasty winger would be useful against the brawny Bruins.
Will another team take a chance on Bertuzzi? Along with age, health and effectiveness, he also has that little trial involving Steve Moore to worry about, so you’d have to be pretty desperate to throw dollars and ice time at that situation.
But Detroit comes out of this pretty much unscathed. Gustav Nyquist made the most of his sophomore campaign, picking up a ton of offensive slack when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg went down with injuries and now all three will be raring to go in the fall. Tomas Tatar showed that he too could be a full-time contributor, while Danny DeKeyser was great on the blueline until his own shoulder malady cut into his rookie campaign. And Brendan Smith finally got to play a full season with the Red Wings, proving he belonged during an effective year.
The Wings still have some big-name free agents to deal with, notably Daniel Alfredsson, who led them in scoring during that bizarre 2013-14 campaign. And Jordin Tootoo has already been put on waivers. But for a team that has always been super-patient with its youth, Detroit now has several kids who really took advantage of their opportunities when the Wings needed them.
Now Detroit no longer needs Bertuzzi, Samuelsson or Tootoo – and the Wings can probably jettison a veteran or two more. If anything, they’ll be even more dangerous in 2014-15 now.