With the news this morning that veteran Mike Modano will be signing with the Red Wings on Thursday, I've decided to take a look at the lineup for this year. GM Ken Holland says he's still looking for another defenseman, and that may or may not happen, but let's look at who is on the roster as of now (I'm going to write the 4th line as I want to see it, not necessarily how it will play out):
Holmstrom - Datsyuk - Filppula
Bertuzzi - Zetterberg - Franzen
Cleary - Modano - Hudler
Eaves - Helm - Abdelkader
Miller, Draper, Ritola
I am, of course, assuming that Helm and Abdelkader sign here in the near future. It would be a damn shame if they don't.
Defense (And again, the pairings may end up being different with the young guys in the mix) -
Lidstrom - Rafalski
Stuart - Kronwall
Ericsson - Kindl
The first, obvious, thing that jumps out at me about this team is it's incredible depth. Especially if Rafalski and Lidstrom are split up to each anchor with one of the young guys, the roster looks solid. With the 15 forwards on the roster, we could yield 5 legitimate NHL-quality lines, and about 4.5 of them have some scoring ability.
As of this moment, the Wings have roughly $3.27million in cap space left. Modano will reportedly sign a one-year contract worth $1.25million, so the remaining space is now $2.02mil. That's plenty of room to get Helm and Abdelkader locked up at around $800,000 each. Assuming that figure comes to fruition, that would leave the Wings with $.42mil with which to work. That's clearly not enough to make any moves, but it is enough to allow some sort of call-up during the year. I would expect 1 or 2 of the following to be traded to create some more space: Drew Miller, Mattias Ritola, and Derek Meech.
The first choice for a trade would be Drew Miller. He's making the most out of that group, $650,000. That would put the Wings with over $1mil in cap space, and still allow for some reserve forwards and a 7th defenseman in case of injury. If the Wings really wanted to, though, they could also trade Meech, putting them at about the $1.5mil mark, and do a couple different things:
Search for a bargain veteran-ish 7th defenseman
Do nothing, keep the 6 defenseman and call up a Doug Janik type player if someone gets injured, and leave some space for a trade deadline deal
Assuming that this Modano deal really does come through, that Jimmy Howard doesn't have a sophomore slump, and that Helm and Abdelkader get signed, the Wings have become the favorites in the West. Howard shored up the goaltending last year and carried the team on his back to the playoffs. How he didn't win the Calder trophy as the Rookie of the Year is still beyond me. The top 3 lines could be first lines on just about every NHL team. The 4th line (as I have it) has speed, grit, and a little goalscoring ability thrown in there, too.
So please, Mr. Holland, get Helm and Abdelkader signed, and let's get the season rolling. It's going to be a great year in Hockeytown.