The Detroit Red Wings’ future isn’t now or tomorrow. It’s probably in 2022-23 or 2023-24. That’s why we aren’t likely to see Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman make a significant splash in the free agent marketplace this summer.
He is likely to enter the 2021-22 season with a significant amount of cap space. As we have witnessed, Yzerman does an excellent job of using cap space to accumulate assets. Think Marc Staal, David Savard and even the Richard Panik element of the Jakub Vrana-Anthony Mantha trade.
But it is possible that Yzerman could start looking at younger unrestricted free agents next summer. In theory, we will get a glimpse of what this team could be this season as we see the beginning of Moritz Seider’s development, plus probably Joe Veleno and maybe Lucas Raymond. Maybe one of the younger free agents could envision the potential and want to be part of it. Or maybe, Yzerman’s aura will act like a tractor beam and pull in talent from all over the league.
Just in case Detroit’s free agent buying starts, here is a first look at some of the players who could be in the UFA market, according to CapFriendly:
Seth Jones, 26, Columbus Blue Jackets
He could be traded and then sign with his new team. But today everyone seems to expect that he will want see what kind of offers he will receive in the 2022 free agent marketplace. He is the kind of five tool defenseman that doesn’t usually end up in the free agent market.
Darnell Nurse, 26, Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers still have problems on defense, but Nurse is not one of them. He will have a long line of suitors if enters the marketplace.
Ryan Pulock, 26, New York Islanders
His laser beam shot from the point will make him attractive to many teams. Would expects the Islander to re-sign him, but you could have said that about Jones until recently.
Morgan Rielly, 27, Toronto Maple Leafs
Because the Maple Leafs have salary cap changes, it is plausible to believe he could be in the market. Already, you hear speculation about Rielly being traded to Detroit to allow Toronto to create cap space to acquire Seth Jones or sign Dougie Hamilton. He’s still young enough to fit into that group.
Hampus Lindholm, 27, Anaheim Ducks
A two-way defenseman, Lindholm has played 527 regular-season games. Coaches appreciate his blend of experience and talent
Rasmus Ristolainen, 26, Buffalo Sabres
He’s 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, and has played 542 regular-season games. He’s a 40-50 point scorer on the blue line.
Colton Parayko, 28, St. Louis Blues,
He will be 29 when he becomes a free agent. But he has won a Cup, commands a big shot and he’s 6-foot-6, 230 pounds
Aleksander Barkov, 25, Florida Panthers
Exceptional two-way star. The Panthers will work to re-sign him, but you never know what athletes are thinking.
Filip Forsberg Predators, 27, Nashville
Forsberg had 12 goals and 32 points in 39 games this season, but in the six previous seasons his goal scoring totals were 26, 33, 31, 26, 28 and 21
Vincent Trocheck, 27, Carolina Hurricanes
Hard-working, full-service center with scoring potential. What’s not to like. Had 43 points in 47 games last season. Played for the Plymouth Whalers before turning pro.
Ondrej Palat, 31, Florida Panthers
Yzerman drafted him in Tampa and he’s been a highly dependable, solid, trustworthy performer. Could see Yzerman being interested in him, despite his age.
Sean Couturier, 27, Philadelphia Flyers
Would expect the Flyers to get him re-signed. Started his career as a defensive center and then developed into a scoring center.
Evgeni Malkin, 34, Pittsburgh Penguins,
Too old, probably wouldn’t want to play with Detroit, but sometimes it make sense for a young team to bring aboard an older star who has Stanley Cup rings.
Johnny Gaudreau, 27, Calgary Flames
Can’t see Gaudreau fitting into a Steve Yzerman team, but just in case I’m wrong
Cal Petersen, 26, Los Angeles Kings
He’s posted a .916 save percentage in his three seasons with a below average Kings team.
Elvis Merzlikins, 27, Columbus Blue Jackets
It seems like the NHL is still intrigued about Merzlikins’ potential. Feels like he has a chance to become a top level goalie. Can look invincible when he is in a hot streakl
Joonas Korpisalo, 27, Columbus Blue Jackets
Owns a 69-56-21 record and a .906 career save percentage. Would be my second choice of Columbus goalies.
Jack Campbell, 29, Toronto Maple Leafs,
Campbell is a Michigan native who didn’t develop as quickly as expected, but is now considered a dependable netminder. He had a .924 save percentage in the regular season and .931 in the postseason.
Darcy Kuemper, 31, Arizona Coyotes
He is a big goalie with a .917 career save percentage. He would be older than the Red Wings’ core group, but you don’t mind that with a goaltender. Kuemper has played well for Coyotes. Could be a high value pick-up