With the tear down component of the ‘retooling’ phase behind them, the Detroit Red Wings are now prepared to start adding players this off season. Clearly the team has a lot of short term needs to fill but thanks to lots of cap room (nearly $15M) and more free organizational spots than they’ve had in recent years they have the necessary flexibility to address these needs. Defense: With the many departures of star dmen via trade last year (Lidstrom, Timonen, and Jovanovski) combined with the buyout of Wade Redden, Ville Koistinen’s return to Europe, and departure of Craig Rivet to free agency the blueline is looking a little thin. If the season were to start today Detroit’s blue line would consist of Tim Gleason, Luca Sbisa, Mike Weber, Ryan Wilson, Steve Eminger, and Brett Festerling. There wouldn’t even be a 7th dman for injuries. Fortunately, the one area that this years crop of HFNHL free agents isn’t as thin on is capable defensemen. Detroit will likely focus most of ifs efforts, and financial reserves, into signing at least two blue liners and won’t be surprised if GM Niece gets called out by his fellow GM’s for over spending when the dust settles. Forwards: While a couple of players will not be returning this season (Svatos, Ebbett, and Parrish) there are sufficient players ready to step in that the needs are not as dire. That said the team would like to add a top 6 centre or LW if the price is right. They’re not likely to get it through free agency as the options are very limited and most of the cap room is now tagged for defense. Detroit had made an attempt to address this at the draft by acquiring the rights to Saku Koivu but terms could not be reached. Koivu’s agents did not even respond to one last ditch offer that was likely more than he will actually get in free agency (I’ll bet $100,000 HFNHL dollars on it). Detroit may seek to acquire some veteran supporting cast UFA’s but will likely seek to address top 6 needs through trade instead as team management admits they already have a few irons in the fire. The one area to watch is whether the Wings will make a couple of RFA forward offers. Not new or reluctant to exercise the RFA offer sheet approach GM Niece has signed away a couple in the past, including Tim Gleason, and is rumoured to have interest in two RFA forwards and possibly a goalie. UDFA’s: While active in this area in the past, the combination of a mediocre crop and the over bidding (i.e almost every guy gets max money offers and goes to a lottery) means the team will likely make less offers than usual. Heck every year there’s perceived ‘must haves’ that never see the light of day or play limited roles that you could get for a mid late pick within a year or two. See the 2009 crop which was likely the best ever and where they are now. It will be a busy summer.