The million dollar question right now in Hockeytown is will captain Nicklas Lidstrom return for a 20th NHL season? Right now, it doesn’t appear we’ll know the answer in the near future.
Lidstrom said he will decide by July 1 whether or not he’ll return to the Red Wings next season. He’ll be 42 by this time next year, but he was still nominated for a seventh Norris Trophy this season as the league’s top defenseman. The Red Wings want him back for obvious reasons; Lidstrom netted 16 goals and 62 points in 2010-11, his highest totals in three seasons.
The future is even more unclear for fellow teammates Mike Modano, Kris Draper and Chris Osgood. Modano hinted toward the end of the season this would probably be his last year, but Draper and Osgood have both expressed their desire to return.
“What do I hope? I still want to play,” Draper said today at Joe Louis Arena as the Wings met to take their team photo and clear out their lockers.
Draper will turn 40 during the offseason and already struggled to find playing time in the fourth line bunch of Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader. But as an alternate captain he’s been an integral part of the Wings organization for all but 20 of his 1,157 career games. He, like Lidstrom, also has a family that has made many sacrifices to allow him to play for so long.
“This is home, that’s the one thing that probably makes it that much tougher. I’ve been here so long. This is all my kids know. A lot of people, when they get to this point in their career, they’ve been to different places, (the kids) have been to different schools, they’ve had different friends. For me, that’s not the case.”
The issue with all of these guys is money, something Detroit doesn’t have a lot of with the salary cap. Draper made $1.5 million last year and the Red Wings aren’t going to pay that amount again for someone who only had six goals and five assists in 47 games. The same goes for Osgood, who made $1.4 million and didn’t even make it through January due to injury. Lidstrom will certainly demand a salary upwards of $5 million, if not the same $6.2 million he made this year (and he earned it).
You can watch Lidstrom and his teammates discuss their futures here.