After what seems to be an early end to an abysmal season from the Detroit Red Wings, we have some time to look at the future. There are still some unknowns such as draft position and potential trades. But what we do know is this roster has a lot of potential for turn over this offseason. There are plenty of upcoming restricted free agents and unrestricted free agents on the current list. Some who will be resigned, some who won’t, and plenty who could go either way. So in our first look in this series, let’s take a look at our definite keepers.
Detroit Red Wings Restricted Free Agents
Anthony Mantha: Mantha is the start of the no-brainer keepers who will be due to be resigned. The real question will be about the term and the AAV of his new deal. Mantha has a history of injury that will work against him when it comes to this contract negotiation. In his four full seasons, he has only played in 78% of available games. And this season, he only played in 43 of 71 games.
But with that said, he still managed 16 goals and 38 points for a .88 Points Per Game average, the best of his career thus far. Not only that, but he has never had a down year when it comes to his possession numbers. His Corsi and Fenwick percentages this year were 54.2% and 55.8%, respectively. Those are outstanding numbers for a horrible team.
Mantha will be 26 years old by the start of next season and is coming off a bridge deal where he made $3.3 million AAV. Expect him to receive a sizeable raise this summer as he is a core player for the future success of the franchise. Expect a multi-year contract north of $6 Million per season. The biggest question is, will this negotiation require the player and team to go to arbitration.
Tyler Bertuzzi: Bertuzzi is another no-brainer resigning for management this season. He may not have the flash and produce points like Mantha does, but he is a heat and soul guy the teams need. Bertuzzi does the hard work in the corners, stands up for teammates, gets to the front of the net, and cashes in on the fruits of his labor with skilled hands in tight burying rebounds and with some fantastic deflections. And even in this shortened season, he tied last season’s career-high in goals with 21 and set a new high in points with 48.
Once again, Yzerman and company will be looking at a player due for a sizeable raise. Bertuzzi is just finishing up a two-year contract that saw him make $1.4 per season. While he won’t be receiving an increase in the level of Mantha, we’ll expect to see him cash in somewhere around 4-4.5 million dollar range. Once again, the term will be a more significant sticking point. They could do a short-term deal, but with only two seasons before he is eligible to become a UFA, management may want to lock him up to a long-term contract.
Robby Fabbri: Fabbri was a fantastic mid-season addition to this Red Wings line up. Traded one-for-one for Jacob de la Rose, from the St. Louis Blues, it is easy to see who got the best out of this deal. Since Fabbri arrived in Detroit, he became an instant fan favorite with his on-ice performance. In his 52 games wearing the Winged-Wheel, Fabbri has 14 goals and 31 points. That’s good for a .6 Points Per Game pace.
Producing on the score sheet is something many knew he was capable of, but after a few injury-riddled seasons, his career had become in jeopardy. Not only that, but he lost his place in the lineup with the Blues, which facilitated his trade to Detroit. Fabbri is still a young player, having just turned 24 years old is finishing a one-year contract, where he made only $925K. Seeing as how well Fabbri fits into the lineup, we should expect him to receive a two- or three-year extension paying him somewhere around $2.5-3 Million per season.
Madison Bowey is the Red Wings only RFA defenceman. He was acquired one year ago at the trade deadline from the Washington Capitals for Nick Jensen. In just his third season in the NHL, he played in 53-games, setting a career-high with 17-points. His production from the back end will be even more critical in the future with the departure of Mike Green to Edmonton. The loss of Green should lead to Bowey seeing more time on the powerplay as well; he averaged 41 seconds on the powerplay this season.
To say his overall defensive game needs work would be an understatement. But he is a young defenceman on a terrible team. The positives of that there is still plenty of room to grow and develop his game. He was fifth on the team in blocked shots with 58. He also averaged 1:21 TOI while shorthanded.
Expect to see an improved and motivated Madison Bowey come into training camp. He’ll have a new short-term contract that he will be trying to prove he deserves.