NHL free agency preview: Red Wings in market for goal-scoring forward
This is the first in a three-part series looking at the Red Wings' position-by-position needs entering free agency. Today: Forwards.
Detroit — No team has struggled to score goals in the NHL this season like the Red Wings.
The Wings ranked last in goals scored (142), goals per game (two), and ranked 29th on the power play (14.9%).
After the top line of Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, goal-scoring was lacking.
For that reason, expect the Red Wings to be active in landing a scoring forward during unrestricted free agency in the offseason later this year.
Now, the Wings could land a talented young forward during the Entry Draft. Likely picking somewhere in the top two to four spots depending on the lottery format chosen, the Wings could be in position to select winger Alexis Lafreniere, the consensus No. 1 player in the draft.
Lafreniere is the lone player among the top few prospects who is expected to step right into the NHL next season and be ready to contribute.
Lafreniere’s offensive game would help, but the Wings would still need plenty more depth.
Filip Zadina showed signs of becoming an impact offensive player before suffering an ankle injury that cut short his season, as did Robby Fabbri, after being acquired from St. Louis.
Young forwards Michael Rasmussen and Evgeny Svechnikov could provide a spark after playing in the minor leagues.
But there remains a need for a proven offensive forward, or two, if possible.
Here are some potential unrestricted free-agent forwards who could interest the Wings:
Taylor Hall, Arizona
2019-20 stats: 16 goals, 36 assists, 65 games
Cap hit: $6 million
Analysis: Hall was the NHL’s most valuable player in 2017-18, but injuries have cut short his effectiveness since. The Coyotes will work aggressively to re-sign him, and it’s doubtful he’d be interested in coming to a rebuilding situation with the Wings.
Vladislav Namestnikov, Colorado
2019-20 stats: 17 goals, 14 assists, 65 games
Cap hit: $4 million
Analysis: Keep an eye on Namestnikov, whom Wings general manager Steve Yzerman drafted in the first round in 2011 in Tampa. Namestnikov is the nephew of former Red Wing Slava Kozlov, and lives in the Detroit area during the offseason. He’s always been a steady offensive player.
Evgenii Dadonov, Florida
2019-20 stats: 25 goals, 22 assists, 69 games
Cap hit: $4 million
Analysis: Dadonov has been an underrated player for the Panthers and hasn't gotten recognition around the league. At 31, he’s not getting younger, but Dadonov will be a shrewd acquisition for whoever lands him.
Mike Hoffman, Florida
2019-20 stats: 29 goals, 30 assists, 69 games
Cap hit: $5.1 million
Analysis: Hoffman is a consistent and proven goal-scorer, but he’s 30 and there’s concern he could be headed on a downturn. Still, Hoffman would be a good fit in Detroit.
Alex Galchenyuk, Minnesota
2019-20 stats: Eight goals, 16 assists, 59 games
Cap hit: $4.9 million
Analysis: Galchenyuk is the type of player who more is always expected of him, but he’s never been able to reach that expectation. He’s only 26, and some team will bank on finding what makes him tick.
Tyler Toffoli, Vancouver
2019-20 stats: 24 goals, 20 assists, 68 games
Cap hit: $4.6 million
Analysis: Acquired from Los Angeles at the trade deadline, Toffoli was fitting in well for the Canucks (six goals and 10 points in 10 games), who will work to re-sign him.
Tomas Nosek, Vegas
2019-20 stats: Eight goals, seven assists, 67 games
Cap hit: $1 million.
Analysis: The Wings lost Nosek in the expansion draft and he’s been a good depth player for Vegas. With the Knights’ salary cap issues, Nosek will likely find a home elsewhere and could possibly return to Detroit.
Mikael Granlund, Nashville
2019-20 stats: 17 goals, 13 assists, 63 games
Cap hit: $5.75 million
Analysis: The Predators acquired Granlund a year ago at the trade deadline and he hasn’t been the same player he was in Minnesota. He might be a good, short-term acquisition to see if he rebounds.
Erik Haula, Florida
2019-20 stats: 12 goals, 12 assists, 48 games
Cap hit: $2.75 million
Analysis: Since a career-best year when he scored 29 goals two seasons ago in Vegas, Haula has been plagued with knee problems. At 29, Haula would be a good short-term signing.
Jesper Fast, New York Rangers
2019-20 stats: 12 goals, 17 assists, 69 games
Cap hit: $1.85 million
Analysis: Fast is a good complementary piece who hasn’t broken out offensively and would strengthen a team’s middle of the lineup.