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Three Free Agents The Red Wings Shouldn’t Sign

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jason zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins
Jason Zucker scored 27 goals for Pittsburgh in his last season there. But he isn't the right fit for Detroit

Almost a year ago, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman signed veteran defenseman Justin Holl (three years, $3.4 million per season) in the name of solidifying a previously leaky defense.

As it turned out, the Red Wings didn’t need Holl. The former Maple Leafs player was a frequent healthy scratch for Detroit in 2023-24, finishing with 34 games played.

Today, the Red Wings need his roster spot and his cap space.  Holl is one of six veteran defensemen the Red Wings have under contract. They would like to re-sign Shayne Gostisbehere. In addition, Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson are likely to make the team in training camp.

The math doesn’t work.  In hindsight, the Red Wings made a signing that they didn’t need to make.

These days, Detroit fans see free agents they would like GM Steve Yzerman to sign, players like Steven Stamkos or Jonathan Marchessault, particularly if they don’t re-sign Patrick Kane. But it’s equally important they don’t make any bad signings.

Here are some free agent forwards they need to avoid:

Center Adam Henrique (Edmonton Oilers)

Quality player to be sure. But Henrique turns 35 during the 2024-25 season. This past season was the best he’s had in six years. AFP Analytics projects he will sign somewhere for three years at $4.3 million per season. Could he get $4.5 or $5 million?

If the Red Wings lose Patrick Kane and Daniel Sprong, they will be looking for replacement goals. Henrique, on a multi-year deal, isn’t the answer.

Under different circumstances, Henrique could certainly help.

But GM Steve Yzerman’s prospect seeds are starting to bear fruit. Detroit will need roster spots for players like Marco Kasper, Nate Danielson, Carter Mazur, etc. Elmer Soderblom is still in the mix. Amadeus Lombardi is a hard-working player who could end up playing in Detroit.

The Red Wings already have five forwards tied up for three or more years, and that will be six when Lucas Raymond is signed. Joe Veleno is also going to be re-signed.  Signing an older forward to a multi-year deal is not the way to go.

Left/Right Wing Jason Zucker (Nashville Predators)

He’s another player whose prime years are in his rear view mirror. He turns 33 in January. Zucker netted 14 goals this season in his split season between Arizona and Nashville. There’s no question he can chip in some goals.

But roster flexibility is crucial for the Red Wings at this juncture of Yzerman’s tenure.

Zucker will be looking for a multi-year deal, and shouldn’t find it in Detroit.

Center/Right Wing Matt Duchene (Dallas Stars)

Duchene put up 65 points this past season and the Nashville Predators management doesn’t seem to have any regrets about its decision to buy out Duchense. The Predators will be enduring his buyout cost for another five seasons. But they let him go under the idea that it was addition by subtraction.

That’s a fact that cannot be ignored.

You can make the case that Duchene could bolster Detroit’s offense as a No. 2 center. But he isn’t the right fit for a team on the verge of exiting rebuilding mode.

He also turns 34 this season, and probably will be seeking a three-year deal at close to $5 million per season. If the Red Wings believe in Kasper and Danielson, they should not put up road blocks. It’s not unthinkable that one or both of these players could spend time in Detroit in 2024-25