DETROIT - It's on to Plan B for Ken Holland.
The Red Wings' General Manager missed out in his pursuit of top unrestricted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, who decided to play together with the Minnesota Wild.
Failing to land Suter is especially troubling for the Red Wings, who face the prospect of no Nicklas Lidstrom on the blue line for the first time in two decades. Suter was the closest thing to Lidstrom available on the free agent market but the Wings' $90 million contract offer wasn't enough to convince him to make Hockeytown his new home.
Are the Red Wings no longer an attractive landing spot for free agents? I'm not ready to draw that conclusion yet. In the case of Parise and Suter, equal money, plus the lure of home and the opportunity to play together, proved to be a combination impossible for the organization to match.
Still, Red Wings' fans have to hope it's not a sign of things to come for a team that is in decline.
This year's first round playoff exit, following two other short post-season runs, is an alarming trend for a team that had been a perennial Stanley Cup contender for years.
Where to from here for the Red Wings?
I would argue it is time for a bold stroke from Holland!
The Wings have plenty of salary cap room and should now re-focus their efforts on a significant roster upgrade.
I proclaimed before free agency began that this off-season was Holland's most important yet--and my opinion on that hasn't changed. The moves on day one of free agency that brought forwards Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tooto, Damien Brunner and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson to Detroit are a start--but all are depth players, not impact guys. And that's what the Wings need right now.
Two top-flight forwards are apparently available for trade—and either would provide a huge boost.
Anaheim is listening to offers for Bobby Ryan. Rick Nash of Blue Jackets reportedly has the Red Wings on his list of acceptable trade destinations. It remains to be seen if Columbus would be willing to trade Nash to a division opponent.
Any deal for the big left wing would likely require a big package of players from the NHL roster and prospects--but that's the kind of move the Red Wings now need to make.
Nash has scored 30 or more goals in seven of his nine NHL seasons. His presence would give the Wings a new dimension up front and make them more difficult to play against.
They will be competing for Nash's services with the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers and Sharks.
Russian winger Alex Semin wore out his welcome with the Capitals. There's been little speculation to date on where the talented but enigmatic sniper could wind up. The Wings desperately need another goal scorer. At first glance Semin would seem to be a perfect fit in Detroit. He could play alongside countryman Pavel Datsyuk on the Wings' top line. Could Semin handle Mike Babcock's firm coaching hand and fit the Red Wings' culture and work ethic? The team may have no choice but to see if the marriage could work if they are unable to swing a quick trade for Nash or Ryan.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan could look to move on if ownership issues can't be worked out in Phoenix. Red Wings beat writer Ansar Kahn from MLive reports that Doan's agent has contacted the Red Wings to gauge interest in his client. Doan is 35 but could be another short-term solution for the Wings up front.
If they decide against trades or additional signings, the Wings will have to hope Brunner, signed out of the Swiss League, or prospects Gustav Nyquist or Tomas Tatar are ready contribute at the NHL level. I haven't seen enough of Nyquist or Tatar to believe that is something the organization can count on. In fact, I'd rather see them included as part of a deal for Nash or Ryan. Babcock said Brunner had top six potential but until he performs on the smaller ice surface in North America against NHL competition—that's certainly open to speculation and debate.
Back on the blue line, Matt Carle, ex of the Flyers, is the most attractive of the remaining free agent defensemen. Now that Suter has made his decision, Carle will be in demand. It's not clear if the Red Wings have interest in the 27-year old. Teams that do pursue Carle now will surely overpay. That's free agency.
Beyond Carle, the list of quality defensemen is a short one. Carlo Colaiacovo, Pavel Kubina, Michal Rozsival and Scott Hannan are among the possibilities. Impressed? Neither am I.
Your move Ken Holland.