DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says he doesn’t expect to be a big player in free agency because the team made its major moves before July.
“Our nucleus is already signed,” Holland told The Associated Press on Thursday night, the first day of NHL free agency. “We have about (US)$5 million to spend and we want to bring back some of our guys.”
Holland wants to re-sign restricted free agents Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves and Derek Meech to add depth, then hopes to have money left to fill a need.
“We’ve got to find players for lower-end salaries,” he said. “The cap went up to $59.4 (million) from $56.7 (million) but much of our money has been spent to keep our nucleus, which I really like.”
Six-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom re-signed to lead the defence. Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi were brought back to bolster the team up front, and Jiri Hudler chose to return after spending a season playing in Russia.
“As we get closer to camp, it would be ideal to sign a tough, agitating centre or another player we think adds a dimension we need to fit as a complimentary player,” Holland said.
The Red Wings also re-signed Holland and assistant general manager Jim Nill to five-year contracts, replacing their one-year deals, after they helped the team thrive as one of the most successful in any sport.
Detroit has won four Stanley Cup titles since Holland was promoted to GM in 1997.
The Red Wings lost in the second round of the playoffs this year to San Jose after rallying to earn a post-season berth for the 19th straight time, extending the longest streak in any North American professional league.