We're one whole week into July, and thus one whole week into the NHL's free agency period. The Wings have been laying relatively low for the time being, not having signed any new faces to the team. Mike Modano aside, (we'll get to him later, trust me) there hasn't even been any big name courting.
This does not mean Ken Holland hasn't been busy. So far, he's inked Drew Miller and Patrick Eaves, both for one year, sub-one million dollar contracts. And word on the street is that he's close to signing many, if not all of our RFAs (the ones we actually want back).
I think this means a lot for this team for this upcoming season.
It's funny you should ask that, because I'm going to explain right now.
Signing 2 players isn't going to make or break a team. Any team. But this doesn't mean it's not important. This is what I see these signings meaning next season:
One of the most important things signing these two players shows to me is that our PK is going to be alright. Both players stick out in my mind from the past season for their willingness to put their bodies on the line to block shots and passes. This is one of those intangible factors that don't really show up on the back of hockey cards (do they still make hockey cards?), but it's one of the major keys to success on a game to game basis, and bleeding over into seasonal success.
Another thing I see happening as a result of these two signing is I think they're going to be even more productive on the other end of the ice, especially Miller. Miller only put up 4 goals his first year in college, following that up with 17 the next year, in one less game. Continue further into his career and you'll see that in 06-07 in the AHL, he scored 16 goals in 79 games for the Portland Pirates. In 07-08, playing again for the Portland Pirates (which was interrupted with a 3 game playoff stint with the Ducks) he put up 16 goals again, but in only 31 games. He seems like a player that grows in leaps and bounds when he gets a chance to stick to a single system or program. He really hasn't had much of a chance to prove himself in the NHL like that, bouncing back and forth from Anaheim to Portland/Iowa. Hopefully this year he can keep up the pattern he's shown in the past and light the lamp a good number of times more than this year, which wasn't too shabby at 10 goals in 66 games.
Eaves, on the other hand hasn't shown any clear cut pattern or consistency, but he seems to be doing well in the Wings' style of play. He's routinely been about a 50/50 player, with career goals and career assists sitting at 57 and 55, respectively (including college and US team stats). In the Red Wings system, he put up the 3rd highest point total of his NHL career in 10 games fewer than his highest scoring season. I can easily see Mike Babcock turning him into a 20+ goal scorer this year, something he's only done once.
Their confidence is going to be higher, leading to improved all around play. Resigning with the Red Wings shows them that they're wanted around here. They weren't just bandages here to stop the bleeding from last year's traitors --I mean free agent departures-- and injuries. This year, they're coming in with a spot on the team more than likely waiting for them, and the support of familiar teammates as well as becoming fan favorites/fakeboyfriends.
I see good, 'breakout' seasons coming for both of these guys. I just hope they don't make me eat these words later.
The Modanos and Their Fucking Flag.
As a kid growing up in Westland and watching hockey, you knew Mike Modano was from around the area. How many people knew exactly where? I did. In the neighborhood directly to the west from mine, for the entire hockey season, in the shadows of the countless Red Wing car and house flags, flew a single Dallas Stars flag. I always had a love/hate relationship with Mike Modano. I liked him for being a hometown boy. Not just in the sense of being from my own state, like the Hatchers or Rafalski, but in the sense of "I know where your parents live, and you went to high school with my aunt". I hated him because he always seemed to do well against my beloved Red Wings, and how dare you do that to the team you undoubtedly grew up watching and loving.
I have a feeling that if/when he signs with the Red Wings this year, it'll be basically the same thing. I'll love it because he'd be coming home to finish his career, and it definitely would be a heartwarming story, but at what cost? Will him signing mean another player that we've already had a spot for gets the axe? Will him signing become a liability due to his old age and unfamiliarity with the way the Wings play?
In my heart, I want him to sign, play, succeed, and everything ends sometime in early June with Lidstrom handing the Cup to him. In my head, however, the risks outweigh the rewards. But to be completely honest, I'm still completely split on how I feel about him coming to the team.
Also, in regards to our former #22: good fucking riddance, Butt Sucking Lips.