*Regular Season Finish: 2nd in Western Conference’*Postseason Finish: Stanley Cup Finalists, Western Conference Champions’
The Detroit Red Wings have been the epitome of success for the past two decades in the NHL, making the playoffs in each of the past 18 seasons, winning 4 Stanley Cups over that span. It was no surprise then, that Detroit ended up making a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2009. After all, despite being the 2008 Champions, the Wings went out and signed last year’s top free agent in Marian Hossa. In the 2009 offseason, however, Detroit has done quite the opposite, doing very little in the way of improving their squad, actually losing a number of players to free agency.
Most notable was the departure of Hossa, who signed with the Western Conference runners-up and division rival Chicago Blackhawks. Hossa signed a 12 year deal which should see him play the Red Wings 8 times a season for the rest of his career. Also signing with Chicago was role player Tomas Kopecky. From the standpoint of personnel, Detroit can’t feel good about their situation, as they lost two very solid players to the team that faced them in the Western Conference Finals last season. Detroit also lost Mikael Samuelsson, who signed with Vancouver, and Jiri Hudler, who abandoned his contract with the Wings to play in the KHL.
The interesting thing about the Red Wings is that they always seem to find a way to build new players that fit perfectly into the system that they have worked so hard to establish over the past two decades. Just like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have filled the places once filled by the likes of Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman, watch for youngsters like Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm to take on more responsibility next season, and flourish.
Detroit did make a few acquisitions this offseason, adding a number of young players that will undoubtedly be molded to fit ight in wherever their talents can make them most valuable. Jason and Jeremy Williams were added from Columbus and Toronto, and Detroit managed to re-sign 23 year old Ville Leino, one of the few free agents the organization saw fit to keep around. Defenseman Doug Janik was also signed, after being traded from Montreal to New York. Janik played only 15 games in the NHL last season, after playing two full seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning.