With Jarome Iginla being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins early Thursday morning, pessimistic Red Wings fans and members of the Detroit media continued their doomsday mentality. Questions once again arose from the fans and media alike wondering if Ken Holland is asleep at the wheel, if players are afraid to play for Mike Babcock or if Detroit has lost the cache and desirability for guys across the league.
Now in all fairness, I can somewhat see where some Red Wings fans who ask these questions are coming from. Hell, the last time the Wings won the Stanley Cup was all the way back in 2008 (gasp) with their last Stanley Cup appearance coming in 2009 (bigger gasp). They were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last year and have had their struggles in a lockout shortened season this year.
So where’s the help? Where’s the big trade? Where was the big name free agent acquisition in the offseason that the Wings always seem to get?
Well, I’d argue that the big name free agent acquisition or big time trade has never really been there. Not in the salary cap era of the NHL at least. And with that said let’s take a look at some of the more notable transactions the Wings have made in the post 2004-2005 lockout era.
- Chris Osgood (FA – St. Louis)
- Andres Lilja (FA – Nashville)
- Mikael Samuelsson (FA – Florida)
- Dominick Hasek (FA – Ottawa)
- Danny Markov (FA – Nashville)
- Greg Johnson (FA – Nashville)
- Kyle Calder (Trade – Chicago)
- Todd Bertuzzi (Trade – Florida)
- Brian Rafalski (FA – New Jersey)
- Brad Ference (FA – Calgary)
- Dallas Drake (FA – St. Louis)
- Brad Stuart (Trade – Los Angeles)
- Ty Conklin (FA – Pittsburgh)
- Marian Hossa (FA – Pittsburgh)
- Doug Janik (FA – Montreal)
- Patrick Eaves (FA – Boston)
- Jason Williams (FA – Columbus)
- Todd Bertuzzi (FA – Calgary)
- Brad May (FA – Toronto)
- Drew Miller (FA – Tampa Bay)
- Joey MacDonald (FA – Anaheim)
- Mike Modano (FA – Dallas)
- Ruslan Salei (FA – Colorado)
- Mike Commodore (FA – Columbus)
- Ian White (FA – San Jose)
- Chris Connor (FA – Pittsburgh)
- Ty Conklin (FA – St. Louis)\
- Fabrian Brunnstrom (FA – Toronto AHL)
- Andrew Murray (Trade – San Jose)
- Jonas Gustavsson (FA – Winnipeg)
- Damien Brunner (FA – EV Zug)
- Mikeal Samuelsson (FA – Florida)
- Jordin Tootoo (FA – Nashville)
- Carlo Colaiacovo (FA – St. Louis)
- Kent Huskins (FA – St. Louis)
First there are a few bigger name free agents and trade acquisitions in there. But there are also a couple of things I’d like to point out. There’s no doubt that the Marian Hossa signing was nice, I’ll let all those who still believe the Red Wings are the Yankees of the NHL have that one. But when the Wings acquired Brad Stuart via trade from the Kings was anyone blown away? Sure someone might say that now but that’s just because of the overall impact he ended up having with the Wings. Meanwhile players like Brian Rafalski and Mike Modano were guys from the area who were getting a chance to come back home to play while Dominick Hasek or Todd Bertuzzi were past their primes or coming with some sort of baggage.
Yes, prior to the 2004-2005 lockout the Wings were big players in free agency acquiring guys like Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille during the offseason or making trades to acquire Brendan Shanahan or Chris Chelios. The big difference though was prior to 2004-2005 there was no salary cap which everyone seems to forget about. The Red Wings never really received a discount from a player, they still had to pay a ton of money for guys and outbid other teams. I’m sure we can all remember the Wings having as much money wrapped up in just their goaltending (when they had Curtis Joseph, Dominick Hasek and Manny Legace) than some teams has wrapped up in their entire payroll.
Now do I think the Wings need to do something at this year’s deadline? Yeah I’d love for them to get that goal scorer to pair with Datsyuk and Zetterberg or a veteran defenseman to put on the blue line to help offset the youth. They’ve got the cap space and a chance to make the playoffs which should still be pretty appealing. And yes, a guy like Jarome Iginla would’ve helped this team but to say he didn’t want to come to Detroit or didn’t want to play for Mike Babcock is totally irrational and based entirely on assumption. Not to mention getting a guy like Jarome Iginla would’ve been outside the norm of how the Wings actually do business.
What the Wings have done this ast offseason and what they seem to be continuing to do now is pretty much on par with how they’ve always done things in the salary cap era. This also includes the 2007-2008 offseason prior to them winning their last Stanley Cup.
Ken Holland had to be and continues to be much more calculated with what he does in free agency and what he does via trade. And it’s worked for the most part.