Blogs > Red Wings Corner

Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Filppula signs five-year deal

Valtteri Filppula signed a five-year contract with the Red Wings worth an average of $3 million per season, according to TSN. Filppula, 24, was Detroit's second-line center through the championship playoff run, often centering Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson. When Franzen was healthy during the Colorado series, that line was Detroit's top scoring unit.

Filppula was scheduled for an arbitration hearing, Friday.

Filppula has been a regular with the Red Wings for the past two seasons after being drafted 95th overall (third round) in 2002. Filppula is looked at as a big part of the franchise's future and locking him up until the age of 29 is a sign of that. Filppula's locker is beside Henrik Zetterberg's on a two-locker wall with the team looking for Filppula to play follow the leader. Pavel Datsyuk has been close with the young Finn -- the two are in a constant one-on-one soccer game in the halls or in the locker room.

With Filppula signed, the Red Wings have just two more players left to fit on their payroll. First comes defenseman Chris Chelios, then a forward like Darren McCarty who will take a two-way contract.

Including Darren Helm (and he might play in Grand Rapids instead), the Red Wings have 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies under contract, meaning they just have to squeeze Chelios in under the cap ($56.7 million).

The Red Wings have approximately $478,668 of room under the cap for Chelios with a 23-man roster that includes Helm, who makes $598,000. The league minimum salary is $475,000.

Because the Wings are so close to the salary cap, defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is likely to be in Grand Rapids. He can clear waivers and his $900,000 cap hit is much larger than Derek Meech's $483,333.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Curt Fraser Griffins' new bench boss

The Grand Rapids Griffins named former NHLer Curt Fraser as their new head coach, today. Fraser was the coach of the expansion Atlanta Thrashers and has been an assistant coach with the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues.

The Griffins' press release ...

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday named former Atlanta Thrashers and Orlando Solar Bears coach Curt Fraser as their new head coach.

Fraser, 50, brings 18 years’ experience as a head coach, assistant coach and player in the National Hockey League to his new role with the Griffins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

After compiling a tremendous head coaching resume in the International Hockey League during the ‘90s, Fraser was named Atlanta’s first head coach on July 14, 1999. He spent three and a half seasons behind the expansion team’s bench, tutoring such stars as Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk during their first two pro campaigns and helping the Thrashers’ 2000-01 squad improve by 21 points over its debut season.

Fraser’s NHL resume also includes stints as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders in 2003-04 and St. Louis in 2005-06. A native of Cincinnati with dual Canadian citizenship, he returns to North America after spending two years as the head coach of the Belarus national men’s team, which recently qualified for the 2010 Olympics with a ninth-place finish at the 2008 IIHF World Championship.

In six seasons as a head coach at the Triple-A level (IHL Milwaukee 1992-94 and IHL Orlando 1995-99), Fraser guided his teams to two division titles and four second-place finishes, posting a cumulative 281-158-10-42 record (0.625) and earning at least 40 wins in every campaign. He led the Solar Bears to the Turner Cup Finals in both 1996 and 1999 and orchestrated a first-round playoff triumph over Grand Rapids in 1997, ending the Griffins’ inaugural season.

“Curt has a tremendous amount of experience as a player and an accomplished record as a head coach at this level, as well as in the NHL and Europe,” said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara. “He’s a great fit in guiding us where we need to go in the future and for the Red Wings in terms of developing young players.”

Vancouver’s second pick (22nd overall) in the 1978 NHL Draft, Fraser spent his entire 12-year playing career (1978-90) as a left wing in the NHL. He accumulated 433 points (193-240—433) and 1,306 penalty minutes in 704 contests with Vancouver, Chicago and Minnesota, highlighted by a personal-best 29-goal, 68-point season with the Blackhawks in 1985-86 and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Canucks in 1982.

Fraser joins returning assistant coach Jim Paek and one of the AHL’s premier franchises in preparation for the Griffins’ 13th season overall and their eighth AHL campaign in 2008-09. Over the last nine seasons, the Griffins have the most wins (402, tied), regular season championships (two) and division titles (five) of any Triple-A hockey team.

In addition, the Griffins and Red Wings have comprised hockey’s most successful affiliation since their 2002 union, combining for more standings points (1,129) than any other AHL/NHL partnership over the last six seasons. Fifteen former Griffins were on the playoff roster of the 2008 Stanley Cup champions, eight of whom will have their names engraved on the Cup: Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, Brett Lebda, Darren Helm, Tomas Kopecky, Darren McCarty and Chris Osgood.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Griffins to name head coach tomorrow morning

The Griffins now control decisions on their coaching staff (it was the Red Wings last year). So with Mike Stothers out, the new coach will be named Wednesday morning. The team's press release ...

WHAT: The Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League will introduce their eighth head coach in franchise history.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 23, beginning promptly at 10 a.m.

WHERE: The Huntington Club at Van Andel Arena. (Located on the ground level of the arena lobby, next to the banquet rooms.)

Media should park in the horseshoe lot/loading dock arena behind arena, and enter the building through the Fulton Street lobby doors.

WHO: Griffins general manager Bob McNamara and the new coach will address the media and be available for one-on-one interviews.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ericsson and Howard sign 3-year deals

The Red Wings signed a pair of prospects, Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard to three-year contracts. Howard is third on the goalie depth chart and goes to training camp fighting Ty Conklin for the back-up role. Ericsson is the brightest star in the system and goes to camp fighting for one of eight defense spots.

Here's the team's press release...

Detroit Red Wings Executive Vice President/General Manager Ken Holland today announced the team has re-signed defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and goaltender Jimmy Howard to three-year contract extensions. In keeping with club policy, additional terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Ericsson, drafted by Detroit in the ninth round (291st) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, played in eight regular season games with Detroit, tallying one goal and averaging 15:58 in ice-time. Ericsson posted 10 goals and 24 assists in 69 games during his second season with Red Wings AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Howard, Detroit’s first pick (64th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, posted a 2.18 GAA in four games with Detroit during the 2007-08 regular season. In his third season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Howard finished with a 2.83 GAA in 54 games. Howard was named the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for December 2007, after posting the best numbers of his career for a calendar month with a 1.72 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.
Both Ericsson and Howard were named to the AHL All-Star team in January 2008 and traveled as ‘Black Aces’ with the Wings during the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The 2008-09 regular-season schedule

I feel like Steve Martin in "The Jerk", running and yelling "The new phone book's here. The new phone book's here."

That said ... the new schedule's here, the new schedule's here.

Once again, the new format includes home-and-homes with each Eastern Conference team once every five years. When not in a home-and-home series, teams from opposite conferences will play once per season.

Red Wings 2008-09 Regular-Season Schedule

Day Date Opponent Time
Thu Oct 9 Toronto 8 p.m.
Sat Oct 11 at Ottawa 7 p.m.
Mon Oct 13 at Carolina 7 p.m.
Thu Oct 16 Vancouver 7:30 p.m.
Sat Oct 18 N.Y. Rangers 7 p.m.
Wed Oct 22 at St. Louis 8:30 p.m.
Fri Oct 24 Atlanta 7:30 p.m.
Sat Oct 25 at Chicago 8:30 p.m.
Mon Oct 27 at Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
Wed Oct 29 at Anaheim 10 p.m.
Thu Oct 30 at San Jose 10:30 p.m.
Sun Nov 2 at Vancouver 10 p.m.
Sat Nov 8 New Jersey 7 p.m.
Tue Nov 11 Pittsburgh 7 p.m.
Thu Nov 13 at Tampa Bay 7:30 p.m.
Fri Nov 14 at Florida 7:30 p.m.
Mon Nov 17 Edmonton 7:30 p.m.
Thu Nov 20 at Edmonton 9 p.m.
Sat Nov 22 at Calgary 10 p.m.
Mon Nov 24 at Vancouver 10 p.m.
Wed Nov 26 Montreal 7:30 p.m.
Fri Nov 28 Columbus 7:30 p.m.
Sat Nov 29 at Boston 7 p.m.
Mon Dec 1 Anaheim 7:30 p.m.
Thu Dec 4 Vancouver 7:30 p.m.
Sat Dec 6 Chicago 7 p.m.
Wed Dec 10 Calgary 7:30 p.m.
Fri Dec 12 at Dallas 8:30 p.m.
Sat Dec 13 at Phoenix 9 p.m.
Mon Dec 15 Colorado 7 p.m.
Thu Dec 18 San Jose 7:30 p.m.
Sat Dec 20 Los Angeles 7 p.m.
Tue Dec 23 St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Fri Dec 26 at Nashville 8 p.m.
Sat Dec 27 at Colorado 9 p.m.
Tue Dec 30 Chicago 7:30 p.m.
Thu Jan 1 at Chicago * 1 p.m.
Sat Jan 3 at Minnesota 8 p.m.
Tue Jan 6 Columbus 7:30 p.m.
Thu Jan 8 Dallas 7:30 p.m.
Sat Jan 10 Buffalo 7 p.m.
Mon Jan 12 at Dallas 8 p.m.
Wed Jan 14 at Anaheim 10 p.m.
Thu Jan 15 at Los Angeles 10:30 p.m.
Sat Jan 17 at San Jose 10:30 p.m.
Tue Jan 20 at Phoenix 9 p.m.
Tue Jan 27 at Columbus 7 p.m.
Thu Jan 29 Dallas 7:30 p.m.
Sat Jan 31 at Washington 12:30 p.m.
Mon Feb 2 St. Louis 7 p.m.
Wed Feb 4 Phoenix 7:30 p.m.
Sat Feb 7 Edmonton 3 p.m.
Sun Feb 8 at Pittsburgh 3 p.m.
Tue Feb 10 at Nashville 8 p.m.
Thu Feb 12 Minnesota 7:30 p.m.
Fri Feb 13 at Columbus 7 p.m.
Sun Feb 15 Colorado 5 p.m.
Wed Feb 18 Nashville 7:30 p.m.
Fri Feb 20 Anaheim 7:30 p.m.
Sat Feb 21 at Minnesota 8 p.m.
Wed Feb 25 San Jose 7:30 p.m.
Fri Feb 27 Los Angeles 7:30 p.m.
Sat Feb 28 at Nashville 8 p.m.
Tue Mar 3 at St. Louis 8:30 p.m.
Wed Mar 4 at Colorado 9 p.m.
Sat Mar 7 Columbus 7 p.m.
Tue Mar 10 Phoenix 7:30 p.m.
Thu Mar 12 Calgary 7:30 p.m.
Sat Mar 14 at St. Louis 2 p.m.
Sun Mar 15 at Columbus 5 p.m.
Tue Mar 17 Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
Fri Mar 20 at Atlanta 7:30 p.m.
Mon Mar 23 at Calgary 9 p.m.
Tue Mar 24 at Edmonton 9:30 p.m.
Fri Mar 27 N.Y. Islanders 7:30 p.m.
Sun Mar 29 Nashville 5 p.m.
Thu Apr 2 St. Louis 7:30 p.m.
Sun Apr 5 Minnesota 5 p.m.
Mon Apr 6 at Buffalo 7 p.m.
Thu Apr 9 Nashville 7:30 p.m.
Sat Apr 11 Chicago 3 p.m.
Sun Apr 12 at Chicago 5 p.m.

* Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, Chicago

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Schedule preview

The Red Wings' season opens at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Oct. 9, and the team announced officially that it will play at Wrigley Field against the Blackhawks on New Year's Day. That's part of the slow leak of the season schedule that will come out in a complete version, Thursday.

Also, the new-fangled schedule has the Red Wings playing every team in the Eastern Conference once and three teams in a home-and-home -- Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Buffalo.

That begs the question ... is all the fuss really worth it? That opening game against Toronto will be the only meeting between the two teams in the regular season. And there'll just be one Montreal game and one Rangers game.

Personally, I didn't mind the old schedule (begin throwing fruit now) ... but if the league was going to change to more conference-vs-conference games, then why not make it home-and-homes against every team in the east? This is a watered-down solution. The NHL really needs to go all the way and make sure there are home-and-homes with every team.

It seems as though this new schedule will have a home-and-home with one team from each of three divisions in the opposite conference. That means that there will be a home-and-home with Toronto once every five years, with Montreal once every five years, etc. I'm not sure that's what NHL fans were looking for in the way of change.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ticket renewals

The Red Wings mailed out their season-ticket renewals, today. Returning a 25 percent deposit on renewals by Aug. 4 will lock ticket prices in at last year's rates. In addition, 10 percent of the Red Wings' ticket prices will be lowered with a heavy concentration of those being seats that were formerly $44.

The price cuts are part of an effort to draw in new fans to Joe Louis Arena.

"A lot of people have told me that there was more energy, more enthusiasm in the building," said Steve Violetta, senior vice president of business affairs who joined the Red Wings in mid-season. "I think that had a lot to do with rolling back prices. New people came in the building and brought new energy."

Drake retires

"I've played a long time and had a lot of fun," said Dallas Drake, Tuesday, upon announcing his retirement as a player.

Drake logged 1,009 regular-season games, but had never advanced beyond the conference final (only getting that far once) before winning the Stanley Cup this spring with the Red Wings.

"Definitely winning the Stanley Cup was icing on the cake for me," said Drake. "If we would have found a way to lose, it would have made my decision a lot harder, especially if I had the opportunity to come back and play for the Detroit Red Wings. The Detroit Red Wings are going to be good for a long time. After winning it, it made my decision a lot easier."

"I love this game probably as much as I ever have. Mentally, I still really wanted to play. But my body … it just got to the point where I just don't recover well any more. I don't play up to the level any more that I've become used to playing at. I just don't recover well any more. I think the years wore me out a little bit. Physically, I'm done. You keep telling yourself play as long as you can and I did that."

Drake to retire?

The Red Wings have called a press conference for 1 p.m. today with Dallas Drake and Ken Holland. It's a safe bet that Drake will skate off into the sunset as a Stanley Cup champion.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fil opts for salary arbitration, will return

Forward Valtteri Filppula filed for salary arbitration and will thus remain with the Red Wings. The restricted free agent cannot accept an offer sheet from another team now.

Filppula was a $698,039 salary-cap hit last season. The Red Wings have just under $3.5 million of cap space under which Filppula and one other forward's salary must fit.

Then there's next season when Marian Hossa, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen Mikael Samuelsson, Jiri Hudler and Tomas Kopecky all become free agents.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Griffins sign Q MVP

The Grand Rapids Giffins have signed Francis Pare, MVP of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Here's the press release from the on-the-ball PR department of the Griffins ...

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – One of hockey’s top young players will call Van Andel Arena home during the 2008-09 season, as the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday announced the signing of former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League star Francis Pare (PAIR-ay).

Pare, 21, was named the QMJHL’s most valuable player last season with Chicoutimi, when he led the league with 54 goals and placed third with 102 points in 69 games. A First-Team QMJHL All-Star, he also tied for first on the circuit with a plus-41 rating and seven shorthanded goals.

The center’s breakout campaign saw him net two QMJHL Offensive Player of the Month awards (Nov. and Feb.) and one Offensive Player of the Week nod (Oct. 1-7).

Prior to his lone campaign with the Sagueneens, Pare spent three full seasons with Shawinigan, ranking among the team’s offensive leaders each year. Most notably, he paced the club with 44 assists and ranked second with 29 goals and 73 points in 2006-07, while his 47 points (24-23—47) in 2004-05 stood fourth on the team and eighth among QMJHL rookies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Good reviews

Small point with all the Hossa-mania going on in Hockeytown right now, but I think the Red Wings have added another good person to their roster. In addition to Hossa being a star player, I've heard all sorts of good things about him off the ice.

A couple of years ago in Traverse City at the prospects camp, I spoke with someone who worked with the Atlanta players (the Thrashers were one of eight teams that sent prospects to the camp). He said that the most difficult Thrasher he had to deal with was Ilya Kovalchuk and that without hesitation the easiest Thrasher to deal with was Hossa.

I've also heard good things about Hossa from Andreas Lilja and Dan Cleary who were his teammates for a short time in Sweden during the lockout season and from Tomas Kopecky, who works out with Hossa in Slovakia during the summer.

Again, the on-ice performance is what matters. But from someone who lingers around the locker room, the Red Wings are a good group of people and I do believe that factored into the decision to pursue Hossa. Well that and 40 goals with strong defense.

Where Hossa signing leaves the Red Wings' roster

General manager Ken Holland said that with three goalies and 10 NHL defensemen on the roster (assuming contracts signings by Chris Chelios and Jimmy Howard), that the only open roster spot for the Red Wings after the Marian Hossa deal is one forward spot. (Detroit will carry two goalies and eight defensemen on its 23-man roster this season.)

The Red Wings have 12 NHL forwards, including Valtteri Filppula. The Finn is a restricted free agent, but Holland is confident that the Wings will sign him this summer. Detroit, however, just became more vulnerable to an opposition offer sheet to Filppula because Hossa's deal pushes them closer to the salary cap.

The Red Wings will carry 13 forwards and Holland said that he wants a forward for the 13th spot who is on a two-way contract (two different rates of pay depending on whether he's playing in Detroit or Grand Rapids).

Holland said that he'd like the toughness that Darren McCarty (who has been offered a contract) or Aaron Downey bring to the team for that 13th forward spot. But will McCarty or Downey accept a two-way contract? If not, a free agent could be brought on board or Darren Helm could be the 13th forward.

Ty Conklin and Jimmy Howard will battle for the No. 2 goalie position. Derek Meech, Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson will battle for the eight defense spot.

How Hossa deal got done

Ken Holland said that he had discussions with Marian Hossa's agent Ritch Winter yesterday and that the Red Wings made a long-term contract offer. As the day wore on, it became obvious that Hossa was receiving bigger and better offers from other teams.

Holland thought the deal wasn't going get done, in fact calling the thought of Hossa coming to Detroit "a dream world considering our salary cap situation for '09." The Red Wings were looking for a one-year singing to allow for cap space to sign Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen next year. Hossa had reportedly received offers as high as $81 million over nine years (from Edmonton).

But on his way down to Joe Louis Arena this morning, Holland stopped at a Mobil station and got a call from Winter. With Hossa on the other end of the call, Winter told Holland that Hossa was very, very interested in becoming a Red Wing.

Then, Winter said that their side was willing to sign a one-year contract to make the deal happen. Holland said that he was shocked. He later said that this deal happened because of Hossa and his desire to come to Detroit.

The two sides worked out a salary figure that put Hossa just behind Nicklas Lidstrom as the second highest paid Red Wing.

From Hossa's vantage point, the Red Wings give him a strong chance to win a Stanley Cup and the team plays a style that he prefers -- emphasizing two-way forward play and puck-moving defensemen.

Hossa said that he talked with fellow Slovak Tomas Kopecky -- the two are part of a group of Slovak NHLers who work out in Trencin together every summer -- and liked what he heard about Detroit's players and organization.

Both sides said in today's press conference that they hope this will be more than a one-year relationship. Holland said that he'll have a better idea in the middle of next season what the 2009-10 salary cap will be and whether he can work deals with the players he has to sign for that season.

"Hopefully this is a long-term relationship," said Holland of the Hossa/Red Wing marriage. "The hope is we can keep everyone together ... I've got some time now to see what I can do."

Cap updated

UPDATED with what I think are more accurate salary numbers. I've included Darren Helm as one of 13 forwards, but sub in someone else and the figure won't change much.


Here's my new best estimate after the Hossa signing ... the Red Wings' cap number for next season is a little more than $53.2 million. The league salary cap is $56.7 million.

That leaves about $3.5 million this season to sign Valtteri Filppula and Chris Chelios, assuming Jimmy Howard will be in Grand Rapids and his salary won't count against the cap. So that's more than enough room to sign both Fil and Cheli.

Next season becomes the issue when Henrik Zetterberg gets a more than $5 million raise and Johan Franzen has to be signed as well.

Of course if the cap goes up more next season, perhaps Hossa could be signed if ... ah, forget the numbers and let's just fantasize about the upcoming season for a bit.

Hossa inks deal with Wings

TSN reports the Wings have signed coveted unrestricted free agent Marian Hossa to a one-year $7.4 million deal.
Hossa, who scored 29 goals and had 37 assists during the regular season, was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline last season. He had 12 goals and 14 assists in the playoffs.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Conklin has edge over Howard

Heading into training camp, the No. 2 goalie position for the Red Wings is open. But according to general manager Ken Holland, veteran Ty Conklin has an edge over Jimmy Howard.

"When we go to camp, the No. 2 job is up for grabs," said Holland. "But for Jimmy Howard to be the No. 2 guy, he's going to have to win the job."

In other words, Howard has to outplay Conklin to win the job.

Howard can go to Grand Rapids without passing through waivers. Howard has eight games of NHL experience. Conklin has 110 regular-season games of experience.

Wings sign goalie Conklin

The Red Wings added a veteran goalie, signing Ty Conklin to a one-year contract. Conklin, 32, will compete with Jimmy Howard for the back-up role to Chris Osgood.

Conklin played with Edmonton, Columbus and Buffalo before playing last season with Pittsburgh. Conklin was a standout when Marc-Andre Fleury was injured, posting an 18-8-5 record with a 2.51 goals-against average and a strong .923 save percentage in 33 games played.

Conklin's deal is reportedly worth $750,000. Howard is a restricted free agent.

Howard has one more season that he can go to and from the minors without clearing waivers.

Conklin, who was born in Alaska and played at the University of New Hampshire, has 110 regular-season games of NHL experience, but just one playoff game.

Cap figures

My best estimate at the Red Wings' cap number at the moment is a little under $44.5 million. That includes the signings of Andreas Lilja and Brad Stuart, but doesn't include Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard and Chris Chelios, who will be signed.

The league salary cap is $56.7 million.

The Red Wings' $44.5 million figure includes eight defensemen, one goalie and 11 forwards for a total of 20 signed players. That leaves $12.2 million of cap room with a few more players to be signed.

Keep in mind that Henrik Zetterberg must and will be signed to a contract extension, so the Wings won't bump up to the cap this season. They'll add about $5 million or more to next season's cap total with Zetterberg's new contract kicks in. So the Wings have $7 million or less to play with in signing Filppula, Howard, Chelios and anyone else this season.

And keep in mind that the cap figure will vary depending on the roster. For example, my figure includes Darren Helm, but if he starts in Grand Rapids, the cap number changes.

On signing a forward

It's interesting that general manager Ken Holland specified that he's looking for a forward to sign "short-term." I'm wondering if that means that someone like Brian Rolston isn't coming to Detroit then because he'd be someone who signs for multiple years.

Rolston, a 35-year-old Flint native, was with the Minnesota Wild the past three seasons, scoring more than 30 goals each season. Rolston's rights were traded by Minnesota to Tampa Bay this week, but when the Lightning couldn't sign him, Rolston became an unrestricted free agent at noon.

Reports are that Rolston had narrowed his choices to Detroit and the Rangers, but it's likely he's looking for and will get a multiple-year deal.

Holland confirms Stuart signing

Ken Holland just confirmed the signing of Brad Stuart to a four-year deal. He also said the Red Wings might not be done on the free-agent market, looking for a back-up goalie and a short-term forward.

"We're happy we signed Brad for four years," said Holland. "We really think with him, Rafalski, Lidstrom, Kronwall, our top four (defensemen) match up with anyone."

Stuart's contract averages $3.75 million per season which is between what the Red Wings hoped to pay and what Stuart thought he could get on the free-agent market. Stuart turns 29, Nov. 6.

"They were pretty sure he could get $4 to $4.5 million," said Holland. "We paid a little bit more than we wanted to and he took a little bit less than he wanted to. But all deals made are compromises. He's got a home now."

"We're obviously done on defense," added Holland. "We're still looking for a back-up goalie. If we can find a forward on a short-term deal to fill out our needs, great. But will that be this week or later in the summer, who knows."

With Stuart, the Red Wings have three of their top four defensemen -- Stuart, Rafalski and Kronwall -- signed for the next four seasons and Lidstrom signed for the next two.

"Hopefully, we can convince Nick to stay longer," said Holland.

With Andreas Lilja, Derek Meech and Brett Lebda also signed and Chris Chelios expected to sign later this summer, the Red Wings have the eight NHL defensemen that they will start the season with. Prospects Jonathan Ericsson and Kyle Quincey will likely start out in Grand Rapids.

Detroit has 11 forwards under contract with restricted free agent Valtteri Filppula expected to sign this summer. Starting goalie Chris Osgood is under contract and restricted free agent Jimmy Howard is expected to sign this summer.

Stuart signs four-year deal

TSN reports that Brad Stuart signed a four-year contract that averages $3.75 million per season. Stuart, 28, joined the Red Wings from Los Angeles at the trade deadline last season and was on the second defense pairing throughout the run to the Stanley Cup. Stuart also kills penalties and has value as a left-hander who prefers to play the right point. The only right-handed blue-liner in the lineup in the Stanley Cup final was Brian Rafalski.

The Red Wings' top four defensemen -- Stuart, Nicklas Lidstrom, Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall -- are signed for the next two seasons with Stuart, Rafalski and Kronwall inked for the next four years. The Red Wings also have Andreas Lilja, Brett Lebda and Derek Meech signed for the next two years. Chris Chelios is expected to sign for one year with the Red Wings this summer.

In the wings are prospects Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson. General manager Ken Holland said that the Wings will carry eight defensemen next season, meaning Quincey and Ericsson are likely bound for Grand Rapids unless injuries in Detroit sparks a call-up.

Up front, the Red Wings have 11 forwards under contract and Valtteri Filppula, a restricted free agent, expected to sign this summer. That means the team might add a free-agent forward this week or rely on Aaron Downey and Darren McCarty to fill out the roster.