From Wings columnist Ansar Khan in Detroit, his look at the Detroit's needs and options:
Red Wings need to spend newfound money on bolstering offense hit hard by exit of free agents
Ansar Khan, Mlive.com, July 9 2009
DETROIT -- Ten days after the start of NHL free agency, there still are notable players available for the Detroit Red Wings, who suddenly have a little more spending money than they anticipated and a need to bolster their offense.
They lost players who combined for 88 goals -- Marian Hossa, Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kopecky -- or 30 percent of last season's production.
They will make up some of it by having Ville Leino, Darren Helm and possibly Justin Abdelkader on the roster all season. Players such as Valtteri Filppula and Dan Cleary should help compensate with more power-play time.
The Red Wings will not come close to replacing all that offense, but they have about $1.6 million in salary-cap space to sign a free agent or two.
That figure is a moving target. It fluctuates slightly based on a number of scenarios.
The Red Wings have 21 players signed for next season at a cap number of $55.2 million. That takes into account 11 forwards, including Abdelkader, who might start the season in Grand Rapids depending on other moves.
It also includes eight defensemen. But if Andreas Lilja, out since Feb. 28 with a concussion, is not ready for the start of the season, he will go on long-term injured reserve, freeing up $1.25 million of cap space. If Lilja is ready, the club might opt to trade a defenseman, creating more cap room.
The Red Wings could use a goal-scoring winger and a gritty, fourth-line forward, preferably with decent size.
General manager Ken Holland said he has interest in some free agents. He also said he might opt to stand pat for now, leaving some cap space for a midseason or trade deadline move.
Here is a look at some forwards -- scorers and grinders -- still available in the free-agent market, with last season's team and salary:
Maxim Afinogenov, Buffalo ($3.5 million) -- He has tremendous speed but has been injury-prone and is not the best finisher (16 goals in his past 104 games). He was grossly overpaid by the Sabres.
P.J. Axelsson, Boston ($1.85 million) -- A defensive-minded winger and penalty-killer who would not provide much offense.
Todd Bertuzzi, Calgary ($1.95 million) -- The one-time premier power forward, briefly a Red Wing, has good hands around the net. But he lacks discipline, is injury-prone and has a questionable work ethic.
Mike Comrie, Ottawa ($4 million) -- A skilled player with offensive abilities. But the Red Wings do not need a second-line center and probably would not get good value for their money with him.
Mathieu Dandenault, Montreal ($1.7 million) -- Moved back and forth from forward to defense during much of his nine seasons in Detroit but played mostly on the blue line for the Canadiens. The Red Wings are better off with a full-time forward.
Mike Grier, San Jose ($1.8 million) -- He is what you want in a third-line winger: big, physical, works hard down low, has good defensive instincts and can chip in some offense.
Viktor Kozlov, Washington ($2.5 million) -- A big, versatile forward (6-4, 232) who does not play physical and has been inconsistent throughout his career. He would be good for some offense, though.
Robert Lang, Montreal ($4 million) -- Return to Detroit to play for coach Mike Wang? Forget about it.
Manny Malhotra, Columbus ($1.5 million) -- A center with good size (6-2, 217) who skates well, is responsible defensively and kills penalties. He has underachieved offensively throughout his career.
Travis Moen, San Jose ($925,000) -- A good-sized (6-2, 215), solid role player and penalty killer who would provide grit and a physical presence on the fourth line and would not cost much.
Scott Nichol, Nashville ($750,000) -- He's small (5-9, 175) but energetic, works hard, gets involved physically, agitates and is good on the draw.
Rob Niedermayer, Anaheim ($2 million) -- He's a good skater and dependable defensive player with decent size (6-2, 200) and can play center or the wing.
Mike Peca, Columbus ($1.3 million) -- He would not provide much offense, but he's a good open-ice hitter, penalty killer and faceoff man who tends to get hurt a lot because of his aggressive style.
Brendan Shanahan, New Jersey ($800,000) -- He turned down a one-year, $4 million offer from the Red Wings in 2006, thinking the team was in decline. It helped younger players develop with more ice time. It's unlikely he would want to return or, at age 40, the team would want him back.
Mats Sundin, Vancouver ($8.6 million) -- He would not leave Toronto when the Red Wings wanted him at the trade deadline in 2008. Highly unlikely he would come here now at a much-reduced price. And he probably would take half the season to decide.
Petr Sykora, Pittsburgh ($2.5 million) -- He has good speed and a good shot and scored 25 goals during the regular season. But he was a regular scratch in the playoffs, which raises red flags.
Alex Tanguay, Montreal ($5.4 million) -- One of the top offensive players still available, he is out of the Red Wings' price range.
Jason Williams, Columbus ($2.2 million) -- He has offensive skills and can play the point on the power play, but he lacks grit and does not go to the hard areas of the ice -- among the reasons the Red Wings unloaded him two years ago.