Detroit Red Wings: A SweDetroit Free Agency
(Via Getty Images).
By Rhys Richards (@RREsq)
In the hours before the start of free agency at noon on Friday, the Detroit Red Wings were planning to execute the biggest coup in recent memory.
At noon, long-time Ottawa Senators captain, Daniel Alfredsson, signed a one-year $3.5 million contract with Detroit. The contract is bonus laden and can net Alfredsson as much as $5.5 million. Those bonuses can be deferred to next season.
The 40-year-old Alfredsson has played all 17 seasons of his storied NHL career in Ottawa. He has scored 426 goals and 682 assists for 1108 points in 1178 regular season games.
In that time, Ottawa missed the playoffs three times. Alfredsson remained consistent scoring 51 goals and 49 assists for 100 points in 121 playoff games. Despite regular season success, including four division titles and one President’s Trophy, and playoff success, including one Eastern Conference championship, Ottawa never won the Stanley Cup during Alfredsson’s time in Canada’s capital. And Alfredsson wants a Cup.
At 5’11” and 200 pounds, Alfredsson is not overly big, but he skates well and prefers the possession style Detroit has employed for years. Most importantly, he is right handed, a rarity for the Red Wings.
Alfredsson’s leadership and experience is invaluable. He represents an upgrade over the departing Damien Brunner, who has yet to sign with another team after spurning multiple offers by the Red Wings in favor of free agency. Alfredsson also plays well at both ends of the rink, something that cannot be said of Brunner.
Despite the upgrade, Detroit fans should not expect Alfredsson to contribute at a point per game pace. Alfredsson is in the twilight of his career, and the upcoming season could be his swan song.
Alfredsson is six seasons removed from the 103-point effort in 2005-2006, his highestpoint total in his career. He has scored more than 40 goals twice and last did so in 2007-2008. In the past three seasons, Alfredsson has battled some injuries, including a nagging back situation that has improved in recent months. Alfredsson is a solid right wing that will not be a liability anywhere on the ice.
A few hours into free agency, the Red Wings landed their top target Stephen Weiss. Weiss replaced the departed Valtteri Filppula, who signed a five-year, $25-million contract with Tampa Bay. Like Alfredsson, Weiss played his entire career for the Florida Panthers. And like the Ottawa Senators, the Florida Panthers are division rivals as Detroit shifts to the Eastern Conference next season.
Detroit signed the 30-year-old Weiss to a five-year contract worth $24.5 million. The left-handed pivot has at times been called “Weisserman” because of his playing style is similar to Detroit legend Steve Yzerman.
Weiss was drafted fourth overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He joined the Panthers for seven games following his second season with the Plymouth Whalers in the Ontario Hockey League before returning to Plymouth the following season. In 2002, Weiss joined the Panthers for good and has played ten seasons since.
Weiss has scored 145 goals and added 249 assists for 394 points in 654 regular season games. During his tenure in Florida, the Panthers only made the playoffs once. In seven games, Weiss scored three goals and contributed two assists.Weiss is an upgrade on Filppula. On a better team with better players surrounding him, Weiss can consistently contribute 20 goals and 40 assists. He may be able to top 70 points.That presumes Weiss will remain healthy, which has been an issue throughout his career.
Last season, Weiss was limited to 17 games before undergoing season-ending surgery on his right wrist. Weiss previously underwent the same procedure on the same wrist after the 2008-2009 season.
In 2003-2004, Weiss missed 32 games due to a sprained knee and broken leg. In 2005-2006, he missed the majority of the season due to a left wrist injury that required surgery. Since then, Weiss has weathered shoulder, knee, and groin injuries, but he played 74 games or more in every season since before March’s wrist surgery ended his 2013 campaign.
A healthy Weiss gives Detroit the second line center into whom the team had hoped Filppula would develop. Captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternate captain Pavel Datsyuk prefer to play together. Weiss will allow that to happen.
Throughout his career, Weiss has been superb at the dot. In 2011-2012, Weiss won the eighth-most draws in the NHL. He won a respectable 53.2 percent of his faceoffs. Weiss appeared in 76 games in the 2010-2011 season and won 689 faceoffs with a conversion rate of 53.9. In 2009-2010, Weiss ranked fifth in faceoff wins and won 52.4 percent of the faceoffs he took.
As notable of an addition as Weiss is, the Detroit Red Wings’ 2013 free agency will be remembered as one of the Swedest in recent history with the addition of the team’s eighth Swede.
Both players will improve the team that pushed the eventual Stanley Cup Champions toseven games and came within one game of the Western Conference Final.