Ansar Khan, Mlive.com, July 31, 2009
DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings might bring back a familiar face to help them recoup some offense, as forward Jason Williams is contemplating their offer of a one-year contract.
The Red Wings have brought back several of their former players in recent years, but Williams, an unrestricted free agent, was surprised to receive an offer from the team that traded him in March 2007.
"I wasn't expecting the call, but after they lost (Mikael) Samuelsson and possibly not being able to get (Jiri) Hudler back, they talked to my agent and we thought it might be a good fit to come back," Williams said.
"To go back to a situation I'm familiar with could be good for me. The chance to get in the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup, you can't ask for more.
"You don't see a lot of guys go back to the team that traded them. But I was excited."
The Red Wings are in the market for a goal-scoring winger after losing Marian Hossa, Samuelsson and Hudler.
Williams (5-foot-11, 185) has offensive skills, is a right-handed shot (the Red Wings do not have many right-handers) and can play the point on the power play. His main drawbacks are that he tends to play on the perimeter, lacks grit and is not strong defensively.
Williams, who turns 29 on Aug. 11, had 19 goals, 28 assists and a minus-4 rating in 80 games between Atlanta and Columbus last season, when he earned $2.2 million.
He had no goals, one assist and a minus-2 rating for the Blue Jackets in Detroit's first-round playoff sweep.
Williams talked recently with former Red Wings teammate Brendan Shanahan, who advised him to return to a hockey market such as Detroit.
"I want to go to a team that's in a great hockey market," Williams said.
He said his agent also has had conversations with a couple Russian teams but has not received an offer.
"If they come to me with a contract and say, 'We'd like you to play for a year or two,' I'd strongly look into it," Williams said. "(Kontinental Hockey League) is developing into a good league. I've heard from other players that they're trying to become similar to the NHL."
His agent has talked with a couple NHL clubs, but the Red Wings are the only team that has made an offer, Williams said.
He said he hopes to get something done in the next couple days.
Red Wings officials could not be reached for comment.
The Red Wings have between $2 million and $3 million to spend on one or two forwards. They also have had discussions with the agent for Petr Sykora but have not made an offer.
Sykora scored 25 goals for Pittsburgh last season but was a healthy scratch for most of the playoffs.
Williams had a career-high 21 goals and 37 assists for the Red Wings in 2005-06.
Deciding they needed more grit, they dealt him to Chicago the day before the 2007 trade deadline in a three-team swap with Philadelphia that landed the Red Wings forward Kyle Calder.
Calder was not re-signed after the 2006-07 season.
Williams lasted less than 1 1/2 seasons with the Blackhawks before signing as a free agent with Atlanta in 2008. The Thrashers dealt him to Columbus midway through last season.
Williams still has a house in metro Detroit, having lived in it for only a few months before being traded. He has kept in touch with some of his former teammates, including Dan Cleary, Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby.