The Red Wings are in a bit of a predicament when it comes to their forward depth.
When it comes to NHL teams, one of the biggest issues a team will face is not having enough NHL caliber forwards (see Colton Orr, Jordin Tootoo, etc.) who can play in every situation. The Wings have just the opposite problem on their hands, as they have many, many NHL caliber forwards. Too many.
This is probably a problem that Ken Holland is happy to have, however, it is still a problem. With the re-signing of Cleary and the (increasingly smaller) chance that Alfredsson re-signs with the Wings, they are currently sitting with 19 forwards on the roster, many of whom are eligible for waivers (via wingingitinmowtown).
I think it’s safe to say that Dan Cleary will only hit waivers if desperation sets in for Holland and company. Whether fans like it or not, Cleary was signed to play in the NHL. The waiver buck will most likely fall on players such as Porter, Miele, Ferraro, Aubry, Callahan, Nestrasil and Glendening.
As much as it pains me to say it, a few of those players may be lost for nothing this season. The chances of Ferarro making the Red Wings above players like Jurco (who Babcock said he wanted to make the team), Sheahan and Tatar are slim. Ferrarro is a right handed shot and is only 23 years old; the kid has lots of hockey left in him and put up 31 points in 70 games in the AHL last year. There is nothing stopping a team like Buffalo or Florida taking a crack at this kid for free.
Red Wings fans enjoyed Glendening in his limited role last year (well, 56 games isn’t exactly limited) but they may have seen the last of him. A defensive specialist, right handed shot, and only 25 years old makes Glendening perfect waiver fodder for another team. There are many out there who think that he is NHL ready, and teams like Florida and even Tampa Bay are looking for 4th line players to fill out their lineup. Stevie Y would have a direct line to find out all about Glendening, however, because of the respect that Yzerman and Holland have for each other, if by chance Tampa is interested in a roster player, expect the Lighting and Red Wings to work out a trade (i.e. Mike Commodore for a 7th round pick).
Porter, Miele, Aubry and Nestrasil are all less likely to be plucked from waivers, but there is still one more player that I am not convinced will make this team. Joakim Andersson is behind the 8-ball a little bit this season. The 25 year old Swede broke into the NHL at the same time as Gustav Nyquist but took a back seat to Nyquist’s intense scoring ability. Andersson has had a slightly below average pre-season so far (read into that what you will) and has faded behind the wave of young stars that the Wings have coming up. Andersson was a healthy scratch in 4 of the 5 playoff games against the Bruins last year.
Where does that leave Andersson? Well, the Red Wings don’t make a lot of trades, but should Andersson find himself on the outside looking in (he went -11 in 65 games last season) I would hope (and expect) Holland to pull the trigger on an Andersson trade. He has the defensive capabilities for other teams to be interested, but what would they be willing to give up in return? Is there any chance in hell that the Red Wings get the long awaited right handed defenceman?
Vancouver just signed Bobby Sanguinetti on July 1st, but find themselves without much NHL forward depth. Andersson could play ahead of Cal O’Reilly and (possibly) Shawn Matthias. Arizona may have a gem on their blue line in Michael Stone as well. The 24 year old defenceman had a very underrated year for the Coyotes with 21 points in 70 games (and a positive Corsi number!) and might be a good return for Andersson. The Coyotes could use another centre as they currently are relying on Kyle Chipchura and Rob Klinkhammer (Top 5 best names in the NHL) to hold down their third and fourth lines.
The next 2 weeks will be very interesting for the Red Wings as there will be many hard decisions made that will greatly impact this team. I, personally, still have faith in Ken Holland and trust that he will do his best to not lose some good, young players to waivers unless there are absolutely no offers that make sense. Here’s hoping.
I’m Osgood’s Bucket; keep your stick on the ice.