ESPN hands Red Wings a C-plus for work in NHL free agency

The Detroit News
Defenseman Patrik Nemeth, right, signed a two-year deal with the Red Wings.

The Red Wings weren't expected to make a huge splash in free agency this offseason, and they didn't.

Adding defenseman Patrik Nemeth, forward Valtteri Filppula and goaltender Calvin Pickard doesn't exactly move the needle when it comes to blockbuster signings, which is probably just fine with new general manager Steve Yzerman, who said this month he didn't want to get locked into long-term "high-profile" deals.

ESPN gave the Red Wings a C-plus for their work in free agency, in grades posted Tuesday.

The 6,-foot-3, 220-pound Nemeth, 27, adds size to the blue line, while the 35-year-old Filppula returns to Detroit after six years away, including four in Tampa Bay, where Yzerman also was the general manager.

All three signed two-year deals, with Greg Wyshynski writing that Yzerman's most important work might come down the road.

"Rome wasn't built in a day, and Detroit won't be rebuilt in a summer, according to Steve Yzerman's first moves at the helm of the Red Wings," Wyshynski writes. "Patrik Nemeth is a nice addition to the blue line at two years and $3 million (average annual value). Valtteri Filppula's return to Detroit for two years is the kind of move for which Ken Holland would have been demolished, but for which Yzerman gets a 'because he's Steve Yzerman' pass.

"Next summer is when he'll really be able to put a stamp on the roster."

The Red Wings' grade not surprisingly fell in the bottom half of ESPN's rankings, as one of four teams to get a C-plus. Three teams — the Dallas Stars (led by former Red Wings front-office official Jim Nill), New Jerseey Devils, and New York Rangers — received A's from ESPN.