Detroit Red Wings Free Agency Wishlist: Part Two

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What would be your ideal 2021 free agency scenario for the Detroit Red Wings? (Besides signing Alex Ovechkin, offer sheeting Elias Pettersson, and signing Dougie Hamilton, of course). The 2021 free agency class has a slew of strong names as its headliners. This year’s offseason will be a good litmus test to see where general manager Steve Yzerman feels the team is at. If he goes for a big-ticket name, the rebuild may be closer to an end than we expect. The far more likely scenario is that he plays it safe and signs a few surefire names to stopgap the roster. While this leads to a much less exciting offseason, it’s the smartest bet for the rebuilding Red Wings.

During the first part of the free agency wishlist, we covered RFAs and who stays and who goes. Under that assumption, we wound up with this lineup. There are currently 2-3 spots that still have to be filled on the roster. With that being said, the names listed below are a few likely candidates:

NHL free agent frenzy

Red Wings Free Agency Wishlist: Part Two

The Red Wings have six UFA contracts to work with. Out of the six, they should re-sign no more than three or four of them. As I discussed in the last article, Sam Gagner and Jonathan Bernier should absolutely be re-signed. Luke Glendening is an intriguing option, but he should only be signed if they’re positive they have a place for him in the organization. Apart from Bernier, the most intriguing UFA name on the list is Bobby Ryan. He only played 33 games in the 2020-21 season but was beloved by players and fans alike. He would serve as an excellent mentor to Filip Zadina and the slew of younger players making the full-time leap to NHL ice. His contract should be among the first signed so long as Bernier is retained.

Signing UFA Forwards: 3 Options

With Ryan locked up for at least one more year, one more roster spot remains for a forward. The Red Wings will likely look for a middle-six forward who can fill in for centre in Valtteri Filppula‘s place. Fortunately, this season’s UFA class is full of options. The following names are just a few that could benefit the Red Wings in the long run.

Nick Bjugstad: The Minnesota Wild forward ended this last season with 17 points in 44 games. As an intriguing depth forward option, he can play on the wing or on 3C, if needed. While he’s not going to light up the NHL with offensive ability, he has maintained above-average possession and defensive numbers. He can help to plug up a few gaps on the two-way end. Think Filppula, but much, much better.

Mikael GranlundIf the Red Wings want to make a free agency statement, Granlund is their guy. With 27 points in 51 games with the Nashville Predators, Granlund would make an excellent middle-six centre in Hockeytown. At his best, the 29-year-old can help out Dylan Larkin with center and power-play duties. At worst, he makes for an intriguing trade deadline chip. The only potential downside would be the price tag. Granlund’s age and experience may warrant him a longer, pricier contract. It might not be worth the bite.

Mattias Janmark: Did you know that Janmark was once a Red Wing? He was part of the frustrating trade that saw the Red Wings acquire Erik Cole from the Dallas Stars. Since then, Janmark has played a solid 3C role with the Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Vegas Golden Knights. His name has been tied to Detroit’s since the day they drafted him. Could a homecoming be in the works? Only time will tell.

Signing UFA Defencemen: 3 Options

Now that we’ve figured out the forwards, it’s time to solve the defence. Only one spot remains on our prospective roster. Having said that, Yzerman may forego putting his trust in Dennis Cholowski or Gustav Lindstrom. The defencemen of the 2021 UFA class land all over the place.

Derek Forbort: The former Los Angeles King has done an incredible job this postseason, shutting down Connor McDavid and stymieing the Edmonton Oilers‘ offence. He’s an upcoming UFA heading from the Winnipeg Jets and would work well playing the shutdown role once filled by Patrik Nemeth. Forbort may even sign a similar deal to Nemeth at 2-3 years for around $1-2 million a year. Depending on how his postseason continues, he might warrant a bigger paycheck.

Ryan Murray: At 27 years of age, the former 2nd overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft has become a veteran presence on the New Jersey Devils‘ blueline. He’s become quite accustomed to this role, even remarking about it in interviews. What better mentor for the young Red Wings defence than someone with his ability? While Murray never quite lived up to his draft position, he’s still a strong, solid defenceman in his own right.

David SavardTechnically, Savard is currently on the Red Wings’ books as they helped the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets complete cap space wizardry. This offseason may be the perfect time to formally bring the defenceman into the fold. He was acquired for a 1st round and 4th round pick by the Lightning for his defensive capabilities. As an anchor on the blueline, he can help stabilize the younger defensive corps and bring a bit of mentorship to Moritz Seider. Worst case scenario, they can flip Savard for more draft picks.

2021-22 Red Wings Roster Prediction: Part One

With these signings, this is how the lineup will look before opening night. This lineup allows for an even distribution of offence, solid defence, and good goaltending.


Filip ZadinaDylan LarkinJakub Vrana

Tyler BertuzziRobby FabbriBobby Ryan

Michael Rasmussen-Mattias Janmark-Joe Veleno

Givani SmithSam GagnerLuke Glendening/Nick Bjugstad

Frans Nielsen


Filip Hronek-David Savard

Moritz Seider-Troy Stecher

Danny DeKeyserGustav Lindstrom

Dennis Cholowski


Jonathan Bernier

Thomas Greiss

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images