Steve Yzerman and the Red Wings went big in free agency, spending about $63 million dollars on a group of players who will boost the team next season and beyond. But they did not make the biggest splash. That belonged to the Blue Jackets, who spent $68 million alone on Johnny Gaudreau.
And Gaudreau was the biggest fish in the pond, a 28-year-old winger who just put up 115 points for the Flames and finished fourth for MVP. He hit the open market after turning down an offer from Calgary reportedly worth more than $10 million per year, intent on being closer to home. A New Jersey native, he'll make about $9.75 million per year for the next seven seasons in Columbus.
Asked if the Red Wings explored bringing Gaudreau to Detrout, Yzerman told the Stoney & Jansen Show Friday, "No, not really."
"Obviously we’re following what’s happening around the league and who might become free or not, but if you look at our lineup and our roster, we have a lot of wingers, a lot of left-hand-shot wingers. An excellent hockey player obviously, but it wasn’t a priority for us in tying up that much money and term," Yzerman said. "We have a lot of left-shot wingers, different than him obviously, but just wasn’t really a priority for us at this time."
Instead, the Red Wings did more with less money, securing a No. 2 center in Andrew Copp (five years, $28.2 million), two left-shot defensemen in Ben Chirarot (four years, $19 million) and Olli Maatta (one year, $2.25 million) and two scoring wingers in David Perron (two years, $9 million) and Dominik Kubalik (two years, $5 million).
Kubalik is one of five left-shot wingers who's penciled in Detroit's Opening Night roster, along with Tyler Bertuzzi, Jakub Vrana, Filip Zadina and Adam Erne. The Red Wings also have a pair of highly-regarded left-shot wingers in the pipeline in Jonatan Berggren and Elmer Söderblom, both of whom are nearing Detroit.
Yzerman intends to find stars via the draft, and fill in the gaps in free agency -- not the other way around. One of those stars is Dylan Larkin, who is likely to sign a long-term extension with the Red Wings this summer. Yzerman, per usual, wouldn't divulge any details Friday about contract talks, but said that he would like to keep Larkin in Detroit for the duration of his career.
The Waterford native, who scored 31 goals and 69 points in 71 games last season, turns 26 later this month.
"He’s the captain of our team," said Yzerman. "An excellent person, excellent hockey player. It’s our intention to keep him here hopefully his entire career would be ideal. He’s a player that I think is going to be one of the leaders and will play an important role in us being a good team and a Stanley Cup contender one day.
"So again, he’s the captain, I expect him to be here for a long time. Regarding his contract, we’ll figure that out. It will get done when it gets done.