The Detroit Red Wings hit the ground running. On the first day of free agency they have signed three players, and made significant offers to two of the biggest free agent prizes on the market this off season. The moves that are now official are not huge moves, but they are somewhat out of the Red Wings comfort zone. If the team then lands Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, or both this roster will look a heck of a lot different. For Wings fans today should be remembered as a very happy day.
Let us begin with the signing of Jordin Tootoo. He is an agitator, he is a Darren McCarty/Chris Chelios kind of guy that is great to have because he is tough to play against. He can get in people’s faces, force mistakes, and get in the heads of Wings opponents. Some may write him off as a 100 minuets in penalties pain in the butt, but he did have 24 assist and 30 points last year. Not to mention the have now taken a piece away from the Nashville Predators, who eliminated the Wings from the post season.
The Wings also reached a deal to bring back Mikel Samuleson, while that is a nice story it seems both of these moves are meant to repalce Jiri Hudler and Tomas Holmstrom. That is not an entirely bad thing as finding better pieces of what you had is the mission for every GM in every sport at every moment. For now it looks like the Wings are a better team because of these moves.
DJC hops that the Wings use Tootoo as a grind liner in the model of McCarty and Kirk Maltby. He is a specialist piece, but a agitating forward that this team has lacked over the last few years. They are also likely hoping he has matured a bit as the Wings likely will not stand for the way he has gone about his game in the past. No Wings player had more than 65 penalty minutes last year, and Tootoo has averaged far more than that in his career.
Sure Samuleson is 35 years old, but he fits in well with the kind of hockey this team plays. He had the best years of his career wearing the Winged Wheel, and it seems likely the Wings have a specific role in mind for him. He won a cup with the Wings in 2008, and many of the core players are still around so this is a pretty smart move byHollandbringing back a guy who should fall back quickly into familiar habits.
The Wings also signed 6 foot three Goalie Jonas Gustavsson. The Monster, as he is called, is looking to rejuvenate a career that fizzled some while with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They are looking for him to be Jimmy Howard’s backup and want him to raise the level of his game. He is coming off a 17-17-4 year with a 2.92 Goals Against Average. He has had some issues with his heart, but feels like that is all behind him now.
For now changes are being made, and they appear to be good ones that make the team better. Now we got to wonder if there be NHL hockey played later this fall.