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Detroit Red Wings: Free Agent Frenzy

The Detroit Red Wings are usually one of the quiet teams each summer, but this year has been very different. After losing Nick Lidstrom to retirement and Brad Stuart and Jiri Hudler to free agency, the Red Wings had some big roster roles to fill. And so General Manager Ken Holland was very on July 1st signing three players who will fit right into the roster next season. Holland isn't done yet either as it is rumoured the Wings are still pursuing Shane Doan, Alex Semin and Pavel Kubina, more than ever now that they lost out on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. This post however will talk about the players they did add and what they bring to the team. 

The Red Wings were the first team to get the ball rolling on July 1st when they signed goalie Jonas Gustavsson to a 2 year deal. Gustavsson was considered one of the top free agent goalies a couple years ago when he signed as a free agent with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009. But he never reached his potential in Toronto and with the emergence of Ben Scrivens they were able to let him go. Detroit had been after him in 2009 and wasted no time to grab him now, hopping he could bounce back in the low pressure Red Wing system. Gustavsson has the potential to be a very good goalie in the NHL and is a good pick up to back up Jimmy Howard because of his low price tag and low risk. If Gustavsson doesn't pan out, Jimmy Howard still is capable of carrying the team. But if Gustavsson does play the way he did in Sweden, where he was a playoff MVP, then the Red Wings have a very strong one-two punch in goal.

In the 1990s, the Red Wings were a very violent team, with Bob Probert, Joe Kocur and Darren McCarty pummelling opponents every game. But lately, the team has been more about beating teams with turnovers than fists and they have received criticism for their more finesse style of play. Holland decided to change that when he signed enforcer Jordin Tootoo from the Nashville Predators. With only 125 points in his 486 games, Holland added Tootoo more for his 725 penalty minutes. Tootoo will play on the Wings forth line and be used to protect stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg so that they hopefully will be able to focus more on scoring. It will be interesting to see how Tootoo fits in the Detroit style of play but his tough play should make him a fan favourite in the Motor City.

Holland's last move on July 1st saw the return of a winger who can both score and pass, Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson was a consistent secondary scorer for the Wings between 2005 and 2009 before leaving for the Vancouver Canucks in free agency. As one of the rare right handed shooters in the Wings lineup, Samuelsson will likely return to the second or third line and the point on the second powerplay unit where his lethal wrist shot is a huge asset. Add the loss of Jiri Hudler opening a roster spot and Samuelsson's addition looks to be a solid move for short term improvement.

The Red Wings still have some roster holes to fill, especially on defence, but they still appear poised to be successful again next year. With a deep group of forwards and a strong goalie paring, along with the ever dependable Nick Kronwall leading the defence, the Wings will remain a tough opponent.

Josh Beneteau will be attending the Ryerson school of journalism in Toronto this fall and hopes to write about hockey for a long time. His website is www.jbenny.com, his twitter is @jbenny15 and his email is jbenny15@gmail.com.  


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