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Red Wings May Bark up the Joshua Tree on July 1

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Dakota Joshua, UFA,

If the Detroit Red Wings have any salary cap space left to dip their toes in the free agent pool,  they may be as interested in acquiring grit and guts as they are goals. That will likely bring them to Dakota Joshua.

Hockey insiders and opponents believe the Red Wings will be among the suitors for Dearborn, Michigan native if he doesn’t re-sign with the Vancouver Canucks. The former Ohio State player checks plenty of boxes for Detroit.  He’s 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and registered 18 goals and 245 hits this past regular-season.  In the postseason, Joshua totaled four goals, eight points and 73 hits in 13 games.

Atlantic’s Least Physical Team

Joshua had 32 more hits than Moritz Seider in 2023-24. Fellow defenseman Ben Chiarot posted 163 hits last season. Undoubtedly, the Red Wings have thought how different their team would be if they could get more than 600 hits from three players next season.

Adding hits is important for the Red Wings are important for this reason:  the NHL’s top three teams in hits last season were Detroit’s Atlantic Division rivals Florida (2,348), Boston (2,301) and Toronto (2,202). The fact Tampa Bay (2,007) is seventh and Ottawa (1,990) 10th adds to the Red Wings’ urgency to grow bigger and become more physical.

The Red Wings were last in the Atlantic and 24th in the NHL with 1,689 hits last season.

The Maple Leafs, by the way, are another team that is mentioned prominently as a team that will try to sign Joshua.  Joshua is expected to be one of the most popular free agents.

Could Get 4-Year Deal

That’s one of a few reasons why no one should call the Red Wings a favorite to land Joshua.  First, the Canucks still could get him re-signed. They would like to keep him.

Second, there will be competitive bidding if he enters the market. That’s going to drive up his price. He made $825,000 the past two seasons. He should be able to land a contract worth more than $3 million per season this summer.

AFP Analytics projects Joshua will receive a four-year deal worth roughly $3.2 million per season.

It’s difficult to know whether Detroit can get to that amount without knowing what the numbers will be for Seider’s and Lucas Raymond’s new deal. Plus, they may not be able to sign any free agent if they re-sign both Patrick Kane and Shayne Gostisbehere. 

But they may not be able to sign either one of those two players.

However, if they do have salary cap space available, they clearly would like to add someone who is difficult to play against.