Changes could be coming to the Detroit Red Wings this summer, dismissing speculation Roberto Luongo could be dealt this summer to the Maple Leafs, and the reason the Penguins are expected to re-sign Jordan Staal.
MLIVE.COM: Brendan Savage reports questions surround some of the Detroit Red Wings key players, such as pending UFAs Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Jiri Hudler and Tomas Holmstrom. Lidstrom will soon turn 42, was hampered by a late-season ankle injury, and could contemplate retirement, though if he decides to return for another season, he’d be welcomed back with open arms. Age seemed to be catching up with 39-year-old Holmstrom, who was relegated to the fourth line and the power-play. Hudler said he’d prefer to remain a Red Wing, while Stuart is expected to move on, perhaps signing with a team closer to his California-based family.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Helene St. James reports Red Wings coach Mike Babcock singled out a lack of forward depth as one reason the club fell short against the Nashville Predators. St. James also speculated on the futures of Lidstrom, Holmstrom, Hudler and Stuart.
TSN.CA: Bob McKenzie believes Red Wings management will spend in this summer’s UFA market, regardless of Lidstrom’s status, suggesting New Jersey’s Zach Parise and Nashville’s Ryan Suter could be targets if they opt to test this summer’s UFA market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before I get started, anyone who seriously suggests Lidstrom could sign with another NHL team is being ridiculous. If Lidstrom returns for another NHL season, it’ll only be with the Red Wings, who’ll be more than happy to bring him back, even if they were to sign a big ticket blueliner like Suter.
The Wings currently have over $43 million invested in 17 players, and always keep pace with the cap ceiling, which could be between $60-$64 million for next season if the league successfully reduces the players share of revenue down to fifty percent, so expect them to aggressively pursue Parise and Suter if they become UFAs on July 1st. I daresay Holmstrom is done, and could move on to a job within the Wings organization. Hudler could be re-signed, provided his salary demands aren’t extravagant, while Stuart is definitely goin’ to California, or as close to that state and his family as possible. I would also expect the Wings to sign Parise and/or Suter to heavily front- loaded, cap-friendly deals, provided they can woo either guy to Detroit. If they hit the market, I believe the Wings would be the favorites to sign them.
NATIONAL POST: Michael Traikos dismisses the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring Robert Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks, citing the bad blood between the respective managements of both teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A lot of folks are dreaming up trade destinations for Luongo, with the Leafs among them. If Leafs GM Brian Burke were really keen to get Luongo, I’m sure he and Canucks GM Mike Gillis could put aside their mutual distaste for each other and talk deal. That being said, there’s a number of stumbling blocks here.
First and foremost, Luongo’s “no-trade” clause, giving him full control over where the Canucks could trade him, and we don’t know if Toronto would be among his preferred destinations. There’s a good chance he’d want no part of the pressure of playing in “Leafs Nation”. Second, that expensive, long-term contract, while not impossible to move, will be difficult for a number of teams to swallow, including the Leafs, who’d have to shed about $6 million per season to comfortably absorb it. Third, Gillis wouldn’t just give Luongo away. Yes, he’ll want to free up payroll by moving Luongo, but Gillis would want at least a first round pick, along with a couple of top prospects and/or promising young players, like Jake Gardiner or Nazem Kadri, as part of the return.
Right now, Luongo isn’t on the market, and we don’t know for certain if he will be, let alone if there’s a deal which would please everyone, including Luongo. That’s the reality. Feel free to speculate for the next couple of months, but try to keep those factors in mind when dreaming up trade scenarios, especially those which would bring “Bobby Lu” to Toronto.
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW: Dejan Kovacevic points out the reasons why he believes the Penguins will re-sign Jordan Staal to a long-term extension before his current contract expires next summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless Staal demands a trade, and I don’t believe for a minute he wants out of Pittsburgh, I concur with Kovacevic. Yes, there’s could be some changes if the Penguins get bounced early from this year’s playoffs, but I don’t believe they’ll involve Staal.