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Detroit Red Wings Free Agency: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Image: BVM Sports

All eyes in Detroit were on the Yzerplan on July 1st. Everyone was wondering who the legendary Captain would sign for the Red Wings as a part of the rebuild. Would this be the year if Yzerman played his cards right in free agency? Last year had the same question, only for the Detroit Red Wings to fall short of the postseason.

To put it lightly, Stevie Y made a lot of moves. Some were good. Some were bad. And some… were as ugly as Walter Mattheau. Here’s where Yzerman and the Wings struck gold, where they missed, and where they completely nuked the signing.

The Good

Daniel Sprong

This is an underrated signing by Yzerman as a “prove-it” deal. The former Kraken is 26 years old and adds scoring depth for Detroit. Last season, Dylan Larkin, Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, and company dealt with a lack of scoring. That shouldn’t be much of an issue now with the Dutch right winger on board. Sprong scored 21 goals and had 25 assists last season, making him a reliable goal-scorer.

The best part? It’s extremely friendly at one year and $2 million. If the Red Wings are still rebuilding in 2023-2024, Yzerman can simply move Sprong and get a pick or two. No harm, no foul.

Christian Fischer

The former Coyote comes in at a friendly one-year, $1.125 million deal and had a decent season last year. Fischer had 13 goals for Arizona last season and can be a factor on the ice.

You also can’t go wrong with a reliable penalty killer and checker like Fischer. That comes with his size (6’2″, 214 lbs), where he can win his share of puck battles. This looks like a steal of a deal, especially with the versatility the forward brings.

Shayne Gostisbehere

Honestly, this is a good signing by Yzerman here. Getting the former Flyer on board adds to the defensive depth, along with some offensive prowess. Like before, Detroit can flip him for more prospects if they’re out of contention by February of next year.

The only problem is it seems like a bit of an overpay at $4.125 million. But this year’s free agent market doesn’t have many big names. Besides, he brings a veteran presence that’s good for the younger guys. Age doesn’t matter for older players on one-year deals unless they become a liability, which Gostisbehere isn’t.

The Bad

J.T. Compher

While Yzerman added goal-scoring here, I’m not entirely convinced about handing out five years and $25.5 million to Compher. For one, he gets injured quite a bit. The former Av has had a notorious history of upper body injuries, which hindered his effectiveness. Also, handing out $25.5 million in hopes of a guy breaking out seems like a major risk. That’s especially true since Compher isn’t much of a risk-taker on the ice.

Still, there are some positives to the deal. As mentioned before, Compher does score goals, amassing 88 career goals in seven seasons. You can’t go wrong with a versatile two-way forward for Detroit’s offense, after all. He’s also a fierce forechecker who loves to compete. He embodies the Detroit spirit well and can easily become a fan favorite.

This deal could have a huge payoff if Compher starts taking risks on the ice while elevating his game. He has the potential to score 30 goals in a season for the Red Wings. However, the initial reaction looks to be that this is a bit of a reach from Yzerman.

Goalie Depth

If there’s one thing we learned from this year’s Stanley Cup champions, it’s you can never have enough goalies to hoist the Cup. While it seems far-fetched for Detroit to do so this year, Yzerman added James Reimer and Alex Lyon to solidify the position.

Adding Lyon makes sense, especially after he stepped in and took over the Florida Panthers’ goaltending role en route to the playoffs. However, he eventually collapsed, which led to Sergei Bobrovsky stepping back into the role and propelling Florida to the Stanley Cup Final. Still, he should rebound from that playoff showing.

But why Reimer? The only reason for picking him up was Yzerman looking at the Golden Knights and thinking that might happen to the Detroit Red Wings. If he was in Vegas’s system, he’d have more success since their objective is taking the middle away and blocking shots. However, he’s in Detroit and that’s not their game.

The Ugly

Justin Holl

YIKES. Adding Justin Holl on a three-year, $10.2 million deal seems like a bad idea for the Detroit Red Wings. Why? For starters, he’s 31 years old and is starting to show signs of wear and tear. Signing anybody over 30 to a three-year deal can be bad news unless they’re an All-Star caliber player. That’s not what Holl is, which makes the move more baffling.

Another problem is you’re paying Ben Chiarot AND Holl roughly $8 million.  Having the former Jet on defense is already a pain for the Red Wings. It’s like every new year, Chiarot needs to have his mandatory injury and miss time.


Chiarot must take a hockey stick to a random body part from a personal trainer and get put on injured reserve after. It’s clockwork.

Imagine him and Holl on defense. You have a defenseman that’s prone to the occasional lapse and a guy who can’t stay on the ice for too long. It’d be the hockey equivalent of Dumb and Dumber. Detroit Red Wing fans deserve better than him…

Also, remember when Holl threw a puck against the Dallas Stars? Good times. This was literally the clip tweeted out by Leaf fans after Detroit signed him. Sprinkle on some healthy scratches in the playoffs and there’s another reason why this is a horrible deal. Expect more questionable defensive decisions by Holl in the Motor City, Wings fans. He’ll make you completely forget about Nicklas Lidstrom.

There are some whispers about whether the Yzerplan will truly work. Is it his fault or is it the fault of Chris Ilitch? If Detroit doesn’t take the next step this year and misses the playoffs, there will be fingers pointed. More of them will be at the beloved Captain, with concerns of the Detroit Red Wings being irrelevant growing.

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