Seeing as this season is effectively a wash, this only felt right. The Wings have a decent future, especially considering they’ve got two first round picks this year, and 8 picks in the first four rounds. However, bad contracts are the bane of this team’s existence, and boy is there a lot of them. So, it only feels right to go through a few of them, in our road to predicting what the future holds.
Right away, Justin Abdelkader’s contract is one that stands out. The man is signed through the 2022-23 season, and will likely remain on the team unless there is a drastic jump in the salary cap before his contract is up. I was never a huge fan of this contract, he had never really produced and Abdelkader has certainly never earned the $4.25MM he’s being paid annually. But hey, for the potentially future captain, it only seems right! Henrik Zetterberg’s contract isn’t great either. In large part due to the cap recapture if he retires before the end of the deal, Zetterberg is signed through the 2020-21 season. The man will be 40 at the end of his deal, and while I do think he’ll have some left in the tank after this season, it’s hard to believe there will be anything left by then, especially with injury issues in recent seasons. The captain has undoubtedly earned his roughly $6.1MM annually, but his numbers are beginning to decline, and it’s obvious he isn’t the player he once was. In comes another forward in the party of bad contracts for the team, Frans Nielsen! Signed through the 2021-22 season, Nielsen will be 38 at the end of his deal, and will likely be a leader in this rebuild seeing as he’s got a no-trade clause in his deal. Earning $5.25MM annually over the next 4-plus seasons, it’s hard to argue he hasn’t earned it over his career, but hockey contracts suck like that sometimes. Nielsen will be an interesting contract and name to keep an eye on during the long rebuild.
We all know about the god awful contracts on the blue-line, and frankly, I don’t wanna talk about them because they make me sad. So, let’s move on!
The Wings have a decent prospect pool currently, and I’ve discussed it before. But the more I think about it, the more and more I like their prospects on the blue-line. Filip Hronek and Vili Saarijarvi are two guys that we could see in the NHL as early as next season, and we will hopefully see Joe Hicketts again by the end of this year. Dennis Cholowski is another guy that could show up as soon as next year with a strong showing in training camp. Jordan Sambrook should get a look in Grand Rapids next year, and may sneak into the NHL when injuries come piling up. Among forwards, Evgeny Svechnikov is far and away the best prospect. After a rough start to the season with Grand Rapids, he’s since picked up production and earned a call-up to the NHL. I like Michael Rasmussen a lot too, though he is more of a power-play specialist. Outside those two, there’s not a whole lot of top-end talent in the Wings prospect pool.
As previously mentioned, the Wings have 8 picks in the first four rounds of the 2018 draft, including two in the first-round. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with these picks, though I think it should be strictly best player available. With their own pick likely to be a top-10 selection, I think the Wings could go for someone like Noah Dobson, Quinn Hughes, or even Evan Bouchard. One common theme amongst them, defenseman. I know I said I like the blue-line prospects currently associated with the team, but at the moment, none of them are legit top-pairing guys. Insert one of the three guys I mentioned, and there’s potential. Obviously, an Adam Boqvist or Rasmus Dahlin would be ideal, but I find it very hard to believe that Detroit sneaks into the top-5 selections. Vegas’s pick will likely fall in the low-to-mid 20’s, where we could see Rasmus Sandin, Alexander Khovanov, or Dominik Bokk. Could you imagine a blue-line with the top pair both being named Rasmus? I can, and let me tell ya, it involves the announcers saying the name Rasmus a lot, just to mess with fans. I think the Wings will likely go forward if they take a defenseman with their own pick, but hey, you never know. As previously stated, I think this first round should be strictly best player available.
This team isn’t going to be a Cup contender for some time. Sure, if you get into the playoffs, anything can happen, but they’re even multiple quality pieces away from being a playoff-caliber team. I digress though because, at the end of the day, sports are harder to predict than weather in Chicago in winter.