Detroit Red Wings Free Agency Quiet So Far

Valtteri Filppula; Detroit Red Wings Free Agency

It’s been a week into the Detroit Red Wings free agency period and new general manager Steve Yzerman has been patient. The team made three pickups in the off-season, but there hasn’t been a big signing. Yzerman hasn’t made a deal just to land a big name and he’s going to be patient. 

The Wings reached deals with Valtteri Filppula, Patrik Nemeth and Calvin Pickard on July 1. All three contracts were for two years.

Detroit is in the tough Atlantic Division and must deal with the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple  Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning. However, the Florida Panthers made some big upgrades and the Buffalo Sabres made a couple of key signings. The Montreal Canadiens are willing to throw out an offer sheet to make their team better. 

It looks Yzerman is going to trust the younger players for now, but there were some signings. Here’s a look at them. 

Detroit Red Wings Free Agency 

Valtteri Filppula 

It’s a homecoming for the forward who played in Detroit from 2005-13 and was a Stanley Cup winner in 2008. The Vantaa, Finland native has been with the Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders since then. Filppula is 35 will likely fill the role of veteran leader. 

He comes cheap at $3 million for each of the next two seasons and scored 17 goals last season with the Isles. The Red Wings had trouble scoring with the bottom-six of the lineup and he could give them a few goals. 

Filppula can help along forwards like Andreas Athanasiou, Taro Hirose and others along in their development. The Finn can play with any forward in the lineup and be a productive winger. 

Patrik Nemeth 

One of the Red Wings’ problems was defence and the bruising blueliner can help with that. The Swede is a stay-at-home defender that likes to throw his weight around. He’s a battler that nearly lost his arm in the 2014-15 season. 

Detroit’s backend is filled with older players and younger prospects needing time to develop. Nemeth isn’t flashy and blocks a ton of shots as he had 185 in 2017-18.  

He’s only 27 and he has played for the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche. The Stockholm native can also drop the gloves and stick up for teammates. He won’t fill the stat sheet, but he adds defensive depth. 

Calvin Pickard 

The 27-year-old has bounced around from the Avalanche, Flyers, Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes. He went 4-6-2 in 17 appearances and had a save percentage of .875. 

He will have a chance to compete with Jonathan Bernier for the backup job. Bernier struggled last season and that put a lot of onus on Jimmy Howard to eat lots of minutes.  

Pickard may end up in AHL Grand Rapids and share time with Fillip Larsson in net for the Griffins. The Moncton, New Brunswick native has plenty of AHL experience and comes cheap at $700,000. Detroit qualified Patrik Rybar, but he signed with Karpat of SM-Liiga in Finland. 

Who’s Out 

Martin Frk signed with the Los Angeles Kings and Luke Witkowski went to the Lightning. Zachary Gallant inked a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks. 

All three players were depth-signings, although there was some desire to keep Witkowski.  

What it Means for the Future 

Yzerman could still make a signing as Detroit has almost $5.3 million left in cap space. They could add a cheap veteran or two to compete for a roster spot, but it looks like the Red Wings are going to let their young players play. 

Detroit didn’t make a big splash because it’s going to wait and see what the young players. However, these three signings are solid depth moves. 

Main photo:

OTTAWA, ON – MARCH 07: New York Islanders Center Valtteri Filppula (51) keeps eyes on the play during first period National Hockey League action between the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators on March 7, 2019, at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)