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Just as teammates Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood did earlier this offseason, Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper announced his retirement from hockey on Tuesday. Draper made the announcement during a news conference at Joe Louis Arena that was attended by many of his current and former teammates, general manager Ken Holland, the Ilitches and his family.
Draper retires after playing 1,137 total games with the Red Wings over 17 seasons. After notably being traded from the Winnipeg Jets for $1, he went on to win four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008) and was named the Selke Trophy winner in 2004. He finishes his career with 161 goals and 203 assists.
Although Draper is leaving the Red Wings' roster, he is set to join the front office. Holland and Draper have not decided on an official job title yet, but Draper will still be working with the franchise in the future and will remain close to the team.
With Draper's retirement now official, offseason activity involving the Red Wings roster is likely over. Their roster is basically set for the 2011-12 season, and barring a late-summer trade, no more notable moves are likely to happen.
The earlier speculation about an impending Kris Draper retirement announcement turned out to be correct. MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Draper is in fact holding a news conference on Tuesday. It will begin at 11 a.m. and take place at Joe Louis Arena, and Draper is going to announce his retirement.
When Draper retires, he will be the third Red Wings player to hang up his skates this offseason and the fourth in the last year or so. Already this offseason Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood have retired, and last year Kirk Maltby retired. Now Draper will be the latest Red Wing to call it a career.
Like Maltby, Draper is retiring because there wasn't room on the roster for him. Maltby actually went to training camp to compete for a spot and retired after not making the team. Draper didn't want to go through that and is going to retire now rather than after competing for a spot during camp.
The disappointing thing is that Draper could still play, but with the way the roster is right now, there just isn't room for him.
Winging It In Motown discovered a very interesting caption on a picture of Kris Draper on the Red Wings' official website on Monday. The caption read, "After 1,157 games and four Stanley Cup championships, Kris Draper announced his retirement during a press conference on July 26, 2011."
The picture has since been removed, but it appears the Red Wings are getting ready for an announcement about Draper's retirement. A tweet from Nick Kypreos also suggests this:
Draper is still in playing shape and hoped to come back for one more season, but with the way the Red Wings' roster is right now, there just simply isn't room for another forward. Unfortunately for Draper that means he doesn't have a spot, so it appears the decision has been made to retire.
The only question left is whether to offer veteran forward Kris Draper a contract, but there is already a logjam at forward. With his good friend Osgood retiring this week, Draper may just do the same.
With that, there’s already plenty of theories about how the Red Wings’ lines will look. Here’s how they currently stack up:
Henrik Zetterberg-Pavel Datsyuk-Tomas Holmstrom
Johan Franzen-Valtteri Filppula-Dan Cleary
Todd Bertuzzi-Darren Helm-Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller-Justin Abdelkader-Patrick Eaves
EXTRAS: Chris Conner, Jan Mursak, Corey Emmerton
The Red Wings have nearly $6 million in cap space, leaving plenty for a possible trade deadline acquisition. Holland said he would like to add a top six forward, but that appears to be a long ways off.
The Detroit Red Wings announced Wednesday morning that goaltender Ty Conklin is back with the team. Confirming earlier reports, the Red Wings said Conklin signed a one-year deal for what will be his second stint in Detroit.
The terms of the contract weren't announced, but MLive's Ansar Khan reports that Conklin's deal is worth $750,000.
With Conklin now back, the Red Wings are set at goalie. Jimmy Howard will be in his third year of starting when the 2011-12 season rolls around, and Conklin will serve as his backup. In case either player goes down with an injury, the Red Wings will have Joey MacDonald in Grand Rapids to call up. He re-signed with the Red Wings earlier this month to return as the third goalie. His deal is of the two-way variety for year one of his two-year contract.
Conklin first played for the Red Wings in 2008 after the team won the Stanley Cup. Conklin was expected to be Chris Osgood's backup, but the two goalies ended up splitting time during the regular season. Osgood was the starter in the playoffs and led the Red Wings back to the Stanley Cup finals, but Conklin started 40 games during the regular season and won 25 of them.
When word leaked out early Tuesday that Chris Osgood was set to retire, the expectation was for Conklin to be brought back by the Red Wings. Regner says the move is expected to be officially announced on Wednesday morning, and it will fill the void at the backup goaltender spot on the roster.
Conklin's first stint with the Red Wings was in 2008-09. He and Osgood split the regular season starts and Conklin ended up winning 25 games. He helped Detroit finish second in the Western Conference, and the team ultimately lost to Conklin's former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the Stanley Cup final.
After the loss to the Penguins, Conklin was not brought back. The Red Wings decided to move forward with Osgood and Jimmy Howard, and Conklin ended up signing with the St. Louis Blues. He spent the previous two seasons with the Blues and won a total of 18 games.
If Conklin is in fact back with the Red Wings, he will serve as Howard's backup during the 2011-12 season.
On Tuesday, rumors were circulating about how the Detroit Red Wings had agreed to terms with goaltender Ty Conklin. While nothing was official, the rumors at least made sense considering the Red Wings still need to add a backup goalie and had recently talked to Conklin.
It's entirely possible Conklin will be signed at some point, but contrary to the rumors, nothing has happened yet. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland confirmed this on Tuesday afternoon, saying that nothing will be decided until after he speaks to Chris Osgood.
"Nothing's happened. I want to wait,'' Holland said. "There's not a lot of options, but there are some options. I'm hoping to talk to Osgood in the next few days and then we'll make our decision.''
Osgood is on vacation in Scotland with other Red Wings players to golf and celebrate his 400th career win. He is set to return on Saturday, so it's likely we will hear something about the backup goalie situation this weekend or early next week.
Over the weekend we first learned that Conklin and the Red Wings had talked about a possible reunion. A day later, Ken Holland said that he will probably make a decision sometime this week about the Red Wings' backup goalie situation. While he also said the Red Wings would be comfortable with Chris Osgood coming back for a season, Holland made that sound like nothing more than a last resort move for the team.
If Conklin does in fact sign with the Red Wings, he will serve as Jimmy Howard's backup. In the 2008-09 season, Conklin was brought to Detroit to be Osgood's backup, but he got quite a bit of playing time. In fact, Conklin won only one less game than Osgood during the regular season.
Should the Red Wings decide to sign Conklin, chances are Osgood will announce his retirement. It's not expected Osgood will try to play with another team if Detroit doesn't offer him a deal, so his time in the NHL could be coming to an end.
The Detroit Red Wings have filled their need on defense by signing Ian White and Mike Commodore, but their need for a backup goaltender has not yet been taken care of. The Red Wings could bring back Chris Osgood for one more season, but with concerns about injuries and him not playing much in 2010-11, it seems like the team wants to go in another direction.
They still need to sign a back-up goaltender. No move is imminent, but the club has talked to former Red Wing Ty Conklin, one of the few remaining viable options, who played for St. Louis the past two seasons.
Conklin started 37 games for the Red Wings in 2008-09 and won 25 games. The last two years in St. Louis he won only eight of 20 starts in 2010-11 and 10 of 21 starts in 2009-10.
All the talk in the hockey world right now is about where free agents are going to sign, but it's important to not forget that trades could always happen.
The Detroit Red Wings have not made any deals yet this offseason, but if one happens, chances are it will include Jiri Hudler. According to Greg Brady of Sportsnet Radio in Toronto, the Red Wings tried to trade Hudler at the NHL Draft and offered him to quite a few teams.
Red Wings are eagerly trying to move Jiri Hudler & offered him to loads of teams (Leafs included) at the Draft. Be shocked if he's back.
With both Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller re-signing, the Red Wings seem to be set at forward barring a trade. Perhaps they will be able to create some room by dealing Hudler, but so far they haven't been able to find a team willing to take him and his $2,875,000 cap hit.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year, $33 million deal. The Blue Jackets acquired his rights earlier in the week from Montreal and made sure to get a deal done so a team like the Red Wings couldn't go after him.
While it's not a surprise that a deal was done, the fact that it's worth $5.5 million per year is pretty shocking. I suppose with the way the market is right now it shouldn't be all that surprising that defensemen are getting overpaid, but $5.5 million a year for Wisniewski is a lot of money.
I guess now Jonathan Ericsson's deal with the Red Wings is starting to make more sense. His contract is worth $3.25 million per year, and while that's definitely more than what he's worth, all contracts with defenseman are being inflated. Between the salary cap going up and the need for defensemen being so high, guys like Wisniewski, Ericsson and Christian Ehrhoff are getting big deals.
With Wisniewski and Ehrhoff not making it to free agency, the Red Wings will have to go in a different direction to fill their need for a top-four defenseman.
The Detroit Red Wings can scratch another potential free agent target off the list. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff signed a 10-year, $40 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. The Sabres acquired his rights from the New York Islanders on Wednesday and were able to lock him up before free agency opens on Friday.
Earlier in the week rumors surfaced that the Red Wings were interested in replacing Brian Rafalski with Ehrhoff. That obviously won't be happening now, though. Ehrhoff is yet another defenseman that is off the market before free agency even opens. Joni Pitkanen, Kevin Bieksa, Andrei Markov and Eric Brewer were also thought to be possible targets of the Red Wings come Friday, but all have signed deals.
The Red Wings' last real hope at landing a relatively big-name defenseman is if James Wisniewski doesn't sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus acquired his rights from the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday and is hoping to get a deal done before free agency opens. If they don't, the Red Wings will have a chance to make Wisniewski an offer to return home to Michigan and be one of their top four defensemen.
If the Red Wings are unable to land someone like Wisniewski, their best bet may be to sign an older defenseman for a year and go after a bigger name next year with what is expected to be a stronger free agent class. Obviously the Red Wings need to worry about next season, but if they could get by for a year with someone like Ed Jovanovski, they may be able to just wait until 2012 to go after some bigger names.
On Tuesday night, the Vancouver Canucks traded defenseman Christian Ehrhoff's rights to the New York Islanders for a fourth-round draft pick. New York felt as though the risk of giving up a pick was worth it in order to try and sign the defenseman, but talks between the two sides quickly blew up on Wednesday.
According to Katie Strang of Newsday, Ehrhoff turned down an offer that was worth more than what the Canucks had previously offered Ehrhoff (a five-year, $23 million deal). As a result, the Islanders realized they weren't going to be able to sign him and traded his negotiating rights to the Buffalo Sabres. New York received a fourth-round pick in the deal, meaning they got back what they originally gave up on Tuesday.
The Sabres now have until Friday to get a deal ironed out with Ehrhoff. If they can't come to terms with the German defenseman, Ehrhoff will hit the open market, giving a team like the Red Wings a chance to sign him. Rumors earlier on Wednesday suggested that the Red Wings would like to fill Brian Rafalski's spot on the roster with Ehrhoff, but that can only happen if Ehrhoff actually becomes a free agent.
Personally I think the Sabres have a much better chance to sign Ehrhoff than the Islanders. The Islanders are not exactly a team high on the list of free agents, but Buffalo is a much different situation. I would not be surprised if the Sabres are able to lock him down before free agency begins.
Defenseman James Wisniewski is set to become a free agent on Friday, and like fellow soon-to-be free agent Christian Ehrhoff, he had his negotiating rights traded. The Montreal Canadiens dealt his rights to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional pick.
Unlike the Islanders, the pick that Columbus has to give up is based on if Wisniewski signs or not. If the Blue Jackets are able to ink Wisniewski to a deal, they will have to give up a fifth-round pick to the Canadiens. If Wisniewski doesn't agree to terms and becomes a free agent, Columbus will only give up a seventh-rounder.
The Red Wings have been considered a team that will go after Wisniewski if he makes it to free agency. A lot of rumors have suggested the Canton native would be interested in signing with Detroit, although they are only rumors.
With this trade happening, the Blue Jackets hope to lock up Wisniewski before Friday in order to make sure a team like Detroit won't even have a shot at signing him. Based on Wisniewski's comments after the trade was made, it certainly sounds like a deal will get done.
On Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks traded the negotiating rights of defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to the New York Islanders. The Islanders gave up a fourth-round pick in the trade, which gives them exclusive negotiating rights with Ehrhoff until Friday.
If the Islanders are unable to sign Ehrhoff before free agency opens on Friday, he will become an unrestricted free agent. He will be free to negotiate and sign with any team he wants, meaning New York's trade could be for naught when all is said and done.
If Ehrhoff does indeed hit the open market, the Detroit Red Wings may be one of the first teams to give him a call. With Brian Rafalski retiring earlier in the offseason, the Red Wings need to sign a top-four defenseman, and according to the New York Times' Chris Botta, Ehrhoff may be just the man to replace Rafalski.
Word is the Red Wings would offer Ehrhoff their Rafalski slot. Up to Garth to make sure he closes deal in next 48 hours.
I'm not quite sure if "Rafalski slot" means the $6 million a year Rafalski was making or if that is simply referring to Rafalski's slot in the lineup. I don't see Ehrhoff as a player worth $6 million a year, but he would be a good addition to the Red Wings' defense. Of course, with guys like Joni Pitkanen, Kevin Bieksa, Andrei Markov and Eric Brewer all re-signing with their teams recently, perhaps the Red Wings will have to overpay a bit to land the player they want considering there aren't a ton of options out there.
For Ehrhoff to even be an option for the Red Wings he will have to not sign a deal with the Islanders before Friday. They may give him a very nice contract offer to ensure their trade wasn't pointless, but if I'm Ehrhoff I would wait to see what the Red Wings have to offer. After all, would you rather play for a team like Detroit and skate alongside Nicklas Lidstrom, or would you rather play for a team like the Islanders, which have the lowest average attendance in the league? Regardless of the money involved, the decision seems pretty easy to me.
This offseason the Detroit Red Wings' top priority is to acquire a top-four defenseman by way of a trade or simply by signing someone once free agency opens. Brian Rafalski's retirement created a void in the top two defensive lines for the Red Wings, and Ken Holland is intent on filling the vacancy.
Many names have already been thrown around as players that could possibly sign with the Red Wings, including James Wisniewski. Wisniewski is from Canton, Michigan, and is hitting the open market after spending last season with the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that Wisniewski is a player the Red Wings "like."
One of the guys the Wings like is Canton's James Wisniewski, best known to Detroit fans for accusing Tomas Holmstrom of throwing a "gutless" elbow during the 2009 playoffs, when Wisniewski was with Anaheim. Wisniewski split last season between the Islanders and Canadiens. He's only 27, and while at 5-feet-11 he doesn't tower, he's what coach Mike Babcock would call a "thick body," a 200-plus pounder who is tough to move. And he shoots right, something the Wings lack with Rafalski gone and Patrick Eaves only a maybe to return.
If the Red Wings were to sign Wisniewski, he would take care of their need for a top-four defenseman. The Wings would still need to sign another defenseman or two for the third line/depth, but at least their major need would be taken care of.
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