It certainly wasn't easy, but the Detroit Red Wings managed to extend the franchise's consecutive streak of playoff appearances to twenty-five. Once in, the Wings were promptly bounced in five games by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Despite making the postseason all three times, things haven't been easy for Detroit since they moved east from the Western Conference. The team was a wild card in 2013-14 and has finished in third place in the Atlantic Division the last two seasons. The loss of Pavel Datsyuk will make moving up the ladder this year difficult.
On July 1, the Red Wings jumped on former New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen to help fill the hole left by Datysuk's return to Russia. They also signed buyout victim Thomas Vanek to help provide more goals. Veteran pivot Steve Ott was signed the same day to provide grit.
On paper, the Lightning and Florida Panthers look to be the class of the division. Detroit will do battle with the rest of the division, except for perhaps Toronto, for the guaranteed playoff spot third place provides.
With an expansion draft coming next summer, it will be interesting to see how the Red Wings deal with their goaltending situation. Do they hang on to both Petr Mrazek (who is currently an RFA) and Jimmy Howard and expose one of the two to Las Vegas? Or does one get dealt before next June.
Frans Nielsen signs six-year, $31.5M contract
Thomas Vanek signs one-year, $2.6M contract
Steve Ott signs one-year, $800K contract
Matt Lorito signs two-year, $1.75M contract
Ben Street signs one-year, $600K contract
Edward Pasquale one-year, $575K contract
Group 2 FAs: Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitch Callahan, Colin Campbell,
Jared Coreau (re-signed), Danny DeKeyser, Alexei Marchenko, Petr Mrazek, Teemu Pulkkinen (re-signed), Ryan Sproul
Group 3 UFAs: Joakim Andersson, Daniel Cleary,
Darren Helm (re-signed), Andy Miele (signed: PHI), Kyle Quincey, Brad Richards
Group 6 UFAs: Tom McCollum
2016 Draft Class
Round 1 (20) D Dennis Cholowski (Chilliwack Chiefs)
Round 2 (46) F Givani Smith (Guelph Storm)
Round 2 (53) D Filip Hronek (Hradec Kralove)
Round 4 (107) D Alfons Malmstrom (Oreboro Jrs)
Round 5 (137) D Jordan Sambrook (Erie Otters)
Round 6 (167) G Filip Larsson (Djurgarden Jrs)
Round 7 (197) F Mattias Elfstrom (Malmo Jrs)
Salary Cap Space: $3,269,625 (courtesy of General Fanager)