Adam Erne had the right to feel as if he had established himself an NHL regular in 2021 when the Detroit Red Wings agreed to give him a two-year contract worth $2.1 million per season.
But he is equally justified this summer to be perplexed that he is out of work with NHL training camps almost a month away.
Erne and Alex Chiasson are the two veterans from last season’s Red Wings still on the list of available free agents. The Red Wings have about $5.9 million in cap space remaining with Joe Veleno still to sign. Here are some UFAs that fans know well.
Wing Patrick Kane
Kane had offseason surgery and won’t be ready to play until after the holidays. Reports say he won’t sign until closer to his return date. He wants to go to a contender. No one would be surprised if he returns to the New York Rangers. The Florida Panthers seem like a possibility.
Left Wing Tomas Tatar
The former Red Wings player admitted he talked to the Pittsburgh Penguins. But do they really have the cap space to get a deal done? Tatar is a consistent scorer. He boasts eight seasons of scoring 19 or more goals in the NHL. Last season, he netted 20 goals for the New Jersey Devils
Left wing Adam Erne
At 28, Erne still should be an attractive role player. He was second on the Detroit team last season with 160 hits. Erne chipped in eight goals. Depending upon playing time, Erne could be a 12- to 14-goal scorer. He’s not going to get close to last season’s $2.4 million salary , but there is still hope he could land a one-year deal for close to $1 million.
Right wing Phil Kessel
Kessel totaled 14 goals and 36 points last season. Some team will sign him. The Coyotes should re-sign him. He can still contribute offensively. He could end up being a bargain for some NHL team. His scoring instincts are still there.
Left wing Maxime Comtois
He was a 16-goal scorer two years ago. He might be a good roll-of-the-dice acquisition for a team like the Ottawa Senators or Montreal Canadiens. Comtois has feistiness in him.
Right Wing Josh Bailey
He’s been a serviceable player for a long time, but last season’s 25 points represents the worst season of his career. What general managers have to ask themselves is if Bailey has another 50-point season in him. At 33, he could be looking at coming to an NHL camp on a tryout offer (PTO).
Right Wing Alex Chiasson
There was a period in March when Chiasson scored five goals in seven games and you wondered if the Red Wings should have brought him up earlier. He can supply a quality net front presence. The Red Wings were interested in keeping him, but only if he would take a two-way deal. At this point, Chiasson might have to accept a PTO. He will probably end up on a two-way contract if he wants to keep playing.