Now that the calendar has changed to October, teams around the league have started preparing for next season and it likely won’t take very long for the chaos to begin, as this has the potential of becoming one of the craziest offseasons in league history.
For the Detroit Red Wings, they’ve already made a big splash this fall, acquiring defenseman Marc Staal along with a 2021 second-round pick from the New York Rangers in exchange for future considerations. While this trade is a strong way to kick off the fall, general manager Steve Yzerman’s work is far from complete, as he and his staff must negotiate new contracts with teammates Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Even though the Red Wings are expected to have nine different restricted free agents this offseason, Mantha and Bertuzzi are clearly the two most important skaters among that group and locking each of them up is easily the front office’s first priority. Considering the deadline to submit qualifying offers is on Oct. 7, and players can begin signing them as earlier as Oct. 9, Yzerman admitted he’s planning to make a decision on those eligible players very shortly and will continue discussing new contracts with the team’s top young forwards as well.
“We’ve had discussions with the restricted free agents, we’ve had discussions, we don’t have a contract in place for either player yet,” Yzerman discussed. “But we’ve had discussions with them, ongoing. Couple of our other RFAs, we’ve had some contact with, we’ll kind of debate here over the next week on qualifying offers for our restricted free agents. They’re due next week, so we got to make decisions on who we qualify and don’t qualify.”
Since both Mantha and Bertuzzi are coming off their respective bridge deals, there’s a very good chance they’ll each be looking for a long-term commitment this time around. With the Red Wings featuring approximately $25.74 million in cap space, and that’s including Staal’s $5.7 million salary, they shouldn’t have any issues extending two of their top young forwards, which could possibly result in extremely rapid negotiations.
Along with those emerging stars, Detroit will also need to make decisions on players like Taro Hirose, Adam Erne, Madison Bowey, Christoffer Ehn, Brendan Perlini, Dmytro Timashov, and Kyle Wood, as they’re all slated to hit the open market as restricted free agents next week.
Though this team probably won’t take the ice until late December or earlier January, an extremely interesting offseason could help past the time as the fanbase waits for the 2020-21 campaign to begin.