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So much for Plan A.
With Steven Stamkos opting to re-sign with the Red Wings on an eight-year contract reportedly worth $8.5 million annually, one huge target for the Red Wings is now off the board. With Pavel Datsyuk returning to Russia and his cap hit being dealt to the Coyotes, Detroit is trying to fill his void.
Stamkos will no longer be an option as he inked a deal with Tampa Bay just two days prior to the free agent period beginning. With free agency set to open up on Friday, the Red Wings will now work on landing another top name to help them reach the playoffs for the 26th straight season in 2016-17.
The productive 26-year-old Lightning center went 36-28–64 in 77 games with the Lightning last season.
Prior to the Stamkos news, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland revealed he had already talked to multiple free agents and he appears to have a backup plan — or many — in place.
“Talked to lots of players today letting them know we have interest,” Holland told the Detroit Free Press on Monday.”I’ll double back with the agents later in the week and see what the player or agent is thinking.”
With Stamkos out, here are three potential free agents for the Red Wings to sign.
1) Milan Lucic
Lucic, 28, was unable to come to terms with the Kings on a new contract, so he’ll hit the open market Friday. The winger has reached the 20-goal plateau four times in his career and scored a career-high 30 goals in 2010-11 while helping the Bruins to a Stanley Cup. His playoff experience could be key for the younger stars on this Detroit team. Lucic went 20-35–55 and registered as a plus-26 while playing in 81 of 82 games for Los Angeles last season.
2) David Backes
Backes, 32, is older than Stamkos, but he plays center as well and could fill the void left by Datsyuk by providing the Red Wings a 1-2 punch up the middle with Henrik Zetterberg. Backes scored over 20 goals for the third straight season with the Blues in 2015-16, finishing with 21 tallies and 24 helpers for 45 points. Though his 45 points were the lowest of his career for a full season since 2007-08 (31), his veteran presence and leadership ability could help Detroit overcome the loss of Datsyuk and the sting of losing out on the Stamkos sweepstakes.
3) Kyle Okposo
Okposo, 28, is around the same age as Stamkos and though he doesn’t have the same ability as the Lightning captain, he does have a penchant for making plays. The winger, a former first-round pick (No. 7) of the Islanders, has reached the 20-goal plateau three times and is coming off of a season where he went 22-42–64 for New York. The Islanders already appear inclined to move on from Stamkos, while the Wild could be some hefty competition.
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