Where do the Red Wings go from here?
The summer was shaping up nicely, with Ken Holland dumping Pavel Datsyuk's contract on the Arizona Coyotes and creating almost $20 million in cap space.
Then Steven Stamkos shocked the hockey world and re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning two days before free agency was set to open. As it turns out, the Red Wings never even scored a meeting with the 26-year-old star.
The summer that could have been the biggest offseason in Detroit since 2001, when Holland landed Dominik Hasek, Brett Hull, and Luc Robitaille - has quickly turned into a major 'what if' situation.
There is no free agent close to Stamkos' skill set, but the Red Wings must find alternative, secondary ways to improve.
On Thursday, I ran a Twitter poll to see which free agent people thought Holland should pursue.
Who should become the top target for the Red Wings now that Steven Stamkos isn't an option?
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) June 30, 2016
Kyle Okposo led the vote from the beginning. The Islanders winger has a knack for scoring, and has some size. He is 28 years old, and had 22 goals and 42 assists in 79 games last season. He's a former seventh overall pick who has spent his entire career with the Islanders.
David Backes is a few years older, but the Blues captain proved to be potent in St. Louis' postseason run. He registered three game-winning goals and 13 points in 20 games. He turned down a three-year extension valued at $5.5 million a season.
Loui Eriksson had 30 goals and 33 assists with the Bruins last season. The left wing can play on the power play and kill penalties, but he's 30 years old the market may allow him to command a long-term contract.
Frans Nielsen is a two-way center who has scored an average of 20 goals a season with the Islanders the last three years. He is 32 years old.
Milan Lucic was the most popular write-in candidate on Twitter, but his production has dropped since he left Boston. Plus, it looks like he's destined to sign with the Edmonton Oilers.
Defensemen are available via trade, but the prices are sky-high. Just look at the price Edmonton paid for Adam Larsson. The Oilers moved former No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall to acquire him, in a deal that left hockey analysts scratching their heads. Holland talked to the Ducks about Cam Fowler and the Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk, Ansar Khan reports.
The list of possibilities is far from exciting. Veterans like Eric Staal, Andrew Ladd, and Troy Brouwer are on another tier of free agent forwards. Building from within is vitally important in today's NHL. It shows more and more each summer.
Brad Galli is an anchor and reporter at WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli