Seeing as Ken Holland has said the Wings are done signing free agents just three signings in, it’s only right to get a grade out ASAP. Detroit signed D Trevor Daley, D Luke Witkowsi, and C Turner Elson.
To kick things off, Trevor Daley.
I don’t mind the Daley signing one bit. Daley brings experience and a desire to win. He knows what it takes to win after winning consecutive Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. The only real criticism I have for this deal is both the duration and the money. Daley is 33 years old and was signed to a 3-year deal. Which, on the surface seems all fine and dandy, but when you look at the Wings even a little, you realize that they are a hockey team in dire need of getting younger. Money wise, my criticism is moreso about Detroit not being able to bring in another free agent. Deals were always going to be tough for this team, there’s no doubt about it, but when overpaying for a 33-year old defenseman, there’s cause for concern. For the Daley signing, I give Ken Holland and the Wings a C+, with the only knock being a significant one in duration and money.
The second Red Wings’ signing of the day was Luke Witkowski. Witkowski is an interesting signing. He’s got little NHL experience, and has spent a majority of his career in the AHL. Only playing 54 NHL games for rival Tampa Bay, Witkowski has a small sample size. He’s a gritty defenseman though, and Ken Holland loves him some grit. Witkowski likes blocking shots and dishing out hits. With 44 blocks and 129 hits, respectively. With his little NHL experience, Witkowski has averaged 11:15 TOI. With such a small sample, it makes you appreciate his hit and block totals that much more. The deal is for 2 years with a $750,000 AAV–average annual value. I’m not overly thrilled with the Witkowski signing, but he is a righty, so there’s that. For the Witkowski signing, I give Ken Holland a C- because I simply don’t know if he will play in Grand Rapids or Detroit.
Lastly, Turner Elson. The 24-year old has a staggering 1 game of NHL experience. However, in that one game, he had an assist. Elson is no more than a depth signing for the Red Wings, but it’s one I like a lot. Despite having just one game of NHL experience, he does have 175 games of AHL experience, scoring 34 goals and assisting on 32 more. Solid numbers with a point every 3 or so games in the AHL. With Elson, I see a younger guy that has potential to be a good scorer in the NHL if he does get up to that point. I did a brief Google search on Elson, and the first four search results for videos are all fights, so that may be the sole reason Ken Holland signed him. Grit. And every single Wings fan knows that Kenny likes him some grit. For the Elson signing, I give Ken Holland and the Red Wings a B- because I think this is the one that will have the largest impact. He is on a one-year, “prove it” contract and will come hungry if he plays for the Wings this season.
As a whole, I give the Wings free agent signings a C+ simply because that’s what the grades averaged out to. If Daley wasn’t signed to a 3-year deal, it definitely would have helped the grade out a lot, along with Witkowski not being signed at all. No matter, the Wings and Ken Holland are looking to make it back to the postseason, and Daley will be a guy to help them massively.