The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell weighs in on the Wings’ decision to re-sign Mike Green and to sign Thomas Vanek and Jonathan Bernier:
As you digest the three signings the Detroit Red Wings made to kick off free agent frenzy, there are a couple of things to take into account. First, much of the direction the Red Wings will take next season depends upon the future of Henrik Zetterberg, who will apparently decide on his future after a golf outing with some of his teammates later this month. Second, as long as Ken Holland is GM in the Detroit, the Red Wings will never, ever embrace The Tank.
That much was crystal clear when the Red Wings announced their three signings – defenseman Mike Green at two years with a $5.4 million cap hit, goalie Jonathan Bernier for three year at $3 million per year and Thomas Vanek for one year at $3 million. What you have to realize is that by doing this, the Red Wings may have cost themselves a chance at getting Jack Hughes, the consensus No. 1 prospect in the 2019 entry draft, particularly if Zetterberg decides to retire and is placed on the long-term injury list. But the way the Red Wings look at it, finishing last is no guarantee of winning the draft lottery and the downside of tanking is your young players are indoctrinated into a culture where losing is acceptable.
So the rebuild is on in Detroit, perhaps not in the way that many of their fans would like, but this is a group that knows it won’t contend for at least another couple of seasons. There are different ways to do this and this is the way the Red Wings are going.
Here’s another thing about the Red Wings. Don’t be surprised if all three of Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou are all signed on bridge deals. Larkin will get about $6 million a year on whatever number of years he wants, while Mantha and Athanasiou will get about half of that on shorter-term contracts. That would put the Red Wings over the cap if Zetterberg comes back and they would have to move out a body or two if that happens.
The Red Wings’ approach to sixth overall pick Filip Zadina will be the same as they took with Larkin three years ago. He’ll be in Detroit as long as he’s playing significant minutes and is not a healthy scratch. (For that matter, 30th overall pick Joe Veleno will get a long look in camp.) Otherwise, he’ll either be sent back to junior or go to the American League, an option the Red Wings have open to them with Zadina. In addition to that, center Dennis Rasmussen and defensemen Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski will push for spots, while Tyler Bertuzzi will be in the lineup for a full season.
So the Red Wings are clearly rebuilding on the fly here. It likely won’t get them Jack Hughes, but they won’t be a modern-day version of the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres or Arizona Coyotes, either.
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) July 1, 2018