Although the Detroit Red Wings were eliminated from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the San Jose Sharks for the second straight year, they could take heart they rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to force a seventh and deciding game, pushing the Sharks to the brink despite a roster hampered by injuries, including losing two-thirds of their second line during Game Seven.
In post-game interviews, general manager Ken Holland was justifiably proud of his club's performance, adding he wants to “tweak” his roster to make them more competitive for next season.
Holland currently has over $46.8 million invested in 15 players, with forwards Mike Modano, Kris Draper, Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom, Ruslan Salei and Jonathan Ericsson, and goaltender Chris Osgood eligible for unrestricted free agency.
Lidstrom, 41, had another strong season and was nominated for the Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman. He's expected to make a decision on his future before July 1st, and given how well he played this season, it's believed he'll return for the same salary - $6.2 million – he made in 2010-11.
Modano acknowledged his playing days are probably over and it's believed Draper could retire to a job within the Wings organization, perhaps as part of the coaching staff. Salei isn't expected to be re-signed and it's possible Ericsson might also be cut loose.
Osgood, 38, missed half this season to sports hernia surgery, and given the depth of available backup goalies in this summer's free agent market, Holland could bring in a younger, more affordable backup for Jimmy Howard.
Eaves ($750K) and Miller ($650K) fit well into the Red Wings checking lines, and even by doubling their money for next season they wouldn't take too big a bite out of the Wings available cap space.
Assuming it costs $6.2 million to re-sign Lidstrom and a combined $2.8 million to re-up Eaves and Miller, the Wings payroll would be pushed to nearly $56 million for next season. If as expected the cap for next season increases to around $63 million, that would leave nearly $7 million in available cap space.
Prospect Jan Mursak is expected to be a potential replacement for Draper, adding another $550K to the base cap hit.
Given the lack of quality depth available in this summer's free agent market, there's been specuation Holland could go the trade route to bring in a quality player, with Jiri Hudler ($2.875 million) or Valtteri Filppula ($3 million) named as possible trade candidates. Hudler was a disappointment in his return from his KHL hiatus, but Filppula could have more value on the trade block.