Friday, June 29, 2012

Almost Christmas Eve in Hockeytown!

Season's greetings everyone!  That's right.  It's almost Christmas Eve for all the good little boys and girls who reside in Hockeytown, U.S.A!  We are not dreaming of a White Christmas (that would be Armageddon if it were to snow in July).  We are dreaming of the presents Santa Holland will leave under our tree after the noon hour on Sunday, July, 1, that will be donning the Red AND White.  Our letters to this man who has visions of Stanley Cups dancing in our heads look something like this:

Dear Santa Holland,

We have been good boys and girls over the last year by filling the Joe Louis Arena night after night, buying apparel, watching the games, and cheering our little hearts out.  Heck, we have been doing this for over 20 years now.  We  know we are spoiled, but we really, really, REALLY need a stud #1 defenseman and true goal scorer.  We really like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise and it would be really great if we could have them.  We know there could be other options, which we would also appreciate, but these are the toys we want the most.  We promise we will continue to be good, eat our Little Caesar's Hot and Ready pizzas, and not ask for anything ever again!  Well, not until the trade deadline anyway.  PLLLLEEEEEEEEEAAAASSSSSSEEEE!!!

Thank you, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Citizens of Hockeytown

Okay, we know the obvious.  The Red Wings need, at the very least, a stud #1 defensemen.  One that will be "The Guy" for the next 7-10 years.  That is Ryan Suter.  We know he is the Wings' top target.  Good.  Because he has to be.  Look, you cannot fully replace Lidstrom.  However, when you lose Lidstrom, you must replace him with the best possible option.  You cannot settle.  Suter is by far the best free agent option, and arguably, the best young defensemen in the league.  He must be signed at all costs.  Anything less makes this offseason a failure.  It's that simple.  You lose the best, you replace him with the best available.  He is everything the team covets in their top defensemen: good size, great puck-mover, good defensively (obvious), can play physical, good shot, can QB a powerplay, durable, and logs a lot of minutes.  Pay the man!  If the Wings must "overpay" to keep him away from other teams (especially the Preds and Pens), then so be it.  There really is no other option.  Garrison and Carle are nice young up-and-comers, but that is not what the Red Wings need.  They need a proven commodity.  Suter has played 7 good seasons in the NHL and his best years are ahead of him.  He is a young veteran, if there is such a thing.  He is established.  The others are not.  He is THE option.  PAY THE MAN!!

Now on to the other big need: a scoring winger.  Zach Parise is the best option.  It is no secret he is also very high on the Red Wings' radar.  Good.  He should be.  The problem is that he is also on 26 other teams' radar.  All of which will be throwing huge contract offers his way.  It is said that New Jersey, L.A., Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Detroit are the front-runners.  Minnesota is his home state and has a lot of money to spend.  It is public knowledge they will offer him a gigantic contract.  L.A. has money and just won a Cup and has a great young core.  Pittsburgh has cleared cap space by dealing Staal and sold their soul to Sidney Crosby, who is Parise's supposed chum.  They will be selling the Crosby/Malkin Bonanza hard.  As for New Jersey, Parise has said all along his top choice is to stay with the only team he has ever known.  If they can show him the money, he may just stay.  Needless to say, signing him may be tricky.  My gut is that he is going to Pittsburgh.  It is up to Kenny to sell him to chose tradition and Original 6 over young stars and bad playoff beards.  And of course, money.  We shall see.

If Zach Parise does not chose Detroit, it is not the end of the world as I have warmed up to the idea of taking a gamble on Alex Semin if the price and term are right.  He was outstanding in the World Championships playing alongside Datsyuk for Russia.  If he came to the Motor City, he could rediscover that magic.  For a player who has been criticized for his work ethic and lack of motivation, maybe this is the opportunity he needs to find that spark.  He would play with his countryman, get top line minutes, and no longer be in Ovechkin's shadow.  At the very least, he has an amazing shot and is not afraid to use it.  He is a true sniper.  Something the team has sorely missed since the days of Shanny, Hull, and Hossa which is a big reason the powerplay has been mediocre by Red Wings' standards.  If you could get him relatively cheap, you could follow it up with also signing Shane Doan.  Yes, he is getting up there in age, but he still is a wrecking ball on the ice who can score, play on the powerplay, is durable, a leader, and starving for a Stanley Cup.  He is Dallas Drake on steroids and HGH.  He would look pretty good playing on a line with Filppula and Zetterberg.  If you could bring both of them here for the same price, or possibly less than Parise, this could turn out to be a very good plan B and possibly the best option.

With all that said, Ryan Suter has to be top priority.  Once he is in the fold, Holland and Co. can focus on bringing in the scoring punch.  If they come out of this free agency without him, it will be deemed a failure.  This is not harsh, it is the truth.  If they come out with only him then minimum expectations will have been met.  If the Red Wings manage to sign both Suter and Parise (or maybe the Semin/Doan option), it is an absolute slam dunk and the Red Wings would be among the early Stanley Cup favorites.  They have the cash.  Make it happen.  Be the Red Wings.  Prove to the naysayers that you are not a franchise on the decline, but one that simply reloads.  The next 5 years or so may depend on it.

Whatever happens I am extremely giddy for Christmas.  My stockings are ready.  The anticipation level is at an all-time high.  I just hope Santa Holland does not bring us coal.  MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!  PLEASE CELEBRATE RESPONSIBLY!

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