I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I think the Red Wings signing Mike Modano would be a good thing or a bad one.
My first thought was that there was no way it would happen. Modano’s not the gritty fourth-liner the Wings said they were looking for. He doesn’t come at the league minimum salary. It’s not a fit.
Of course, I wanted it to happen because Modano’s one of the great American players of all-time. The storyline is great, with Modano coming to Detroit and ending his career with his hometown team. And over the holiday weekend, as rumors started heating up, it was easy to change my mind.
Modano is a much better third-line center than Justin Abdelkader. He’s a second-unit power play threat. He’s a veteran leader on a team whose forward corps is very young (by Detroit standards). The cost would be marginal, with Mattias Ritola being waived to go to Grand Rapids, a move the Red Wings seemingly planned for anyway by giving him a two-way deal last spring.
Today, I’m on the negative side again. Forget the salary cap, the cost will be too high based on roster limits alone.
The Red Wings currently have 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goalies, assuming all three of their remaining unsigned restricted free agents return. That’s a 23-man lineup, the league max.
Yes, Ritola could be waived. He might make it through to GR. He’s the only one who might, though.
Subtracting Ritola and adding Modano still puts the Red Wings at 23 men. Two extra forwards, one extra defenseman, no third-string goalie. While it could work, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.
If Jimmy Howard or Chris Osgood got hurt, there’d be no roster spot for a short-term call-up of Joey MacDonald. If two defensemen went down at once the Wings would be short on the blueline.
The Wings might be in that kind of situation without Modano. Or they could go all season with no injuries (or only injuries to forwards). That doesn’t mean tempting fate is the right decision.
Of course, if they could swing a deal where they at least got something in return for some of their depth, that changes everything.