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April 18, 2003 - The Future: What's in store for the Wings
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Friday, April 18, 2003
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David Guralnick / The Detroit News

Darren McCarty, who can't get the puck past the Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere, might be coveted by other teams for his physical presence.

The Future: What's in store for the Wings

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David Guralnick / The Detroit News

Luc Robitaille almost certainly has played his last game for the Wings, who could buy out the option year on his contract.
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David Guralnick / The Detroit News

It also might be difficult for the Wings to find money to keep Igor Larionov, who at age 42 may or may not be ready to retire.

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Coaching staff

Coach Dave Lewis, associate Barry Smith and assistant Joe Kocur: They'll rightfully escape blame this time around. They put the players in position to succeed, and the players didn't do their job. But make no mistake as this trio heads into the second, and last, years of contracts next season: A first-round exit next season would not be acceptable for this organization that expects to win, and nothing else.

Goalies

Curtis Joseph: With two years left on his contact (worth $16 million), Joseph isn't going anywhere. He'll receive his share of criticism for this playoff disappointment, but as the series progressed, more of the blame rightfully was directed at the offensive and defensive breakdowns. Next season, the questions of whether he's good enough to backstop the Wings to the Stanley Cup will linger, and maybe grow stronger.

Manny Legace: He's signed until 2006, and he's viewed as one of the best backup goalies in the NHL. A few teams will be looking for goalies in the off-season. The Wings will bring Legace back. But it will be curious to see if there's any team out there that believes he's ready to be a No. 1 and possibly trade for him.

Defense

Patrick Boileau: The Wings are likely to bring him back as a depth player. He moved up the depth chart at the end of the regular season and didn't look out of place playing on the third pairing.

Dmitri Bykov: Wings property for next season, he's a young player who should only get better. Definitely received a baptism in playoff hockey, and should be better for it.

Chris Chelios: Signed through next season. Questions about how much hockey he has left will begin anew after a subpar playoff series. Chelios will 42 next January. How much longer can he go on? How much will he have left next season?

Mathieu Dandenault: A restricted free agent this season, he'll be re-signed. Dandenault had the epitome of a roller-coaster season. A mediocre first half, a great second half, then a costly mental lapse in Game 4 that resulted in Paul Kariya's late first-period goal.

Jiri Fischer: After a lost season because of knee surgery, Fischer will be welcomed back wholeheartedly next season.

Nicklas Lidstrom: Signed for two more seasons, Lidstrom isn't going anywhere. He'll likely win his third Norris Trophy, and rightfully so. But measured against his lofty standards, he didn't meet those expectations in this four-game series.

Mathieu Schneider: Isn't going anywhere, what with another year left on his contract. Schneider, playing alongside Chelios, struggled in the playoffs and more will be expected next season.

Jason Woolley: An unrestricted free agent, he'd love to stay here but might have to take less money to remain. The Wings might choose to go with a younger and cheaper player.

Jesse Wallin: A restricted free agent. The Wings are likely to keep him to provide depth.

Forwards

Pavel Datsyuk: A restricted free agent, he's one of the cornerstones for the future. He'll only keep getting better.

Boyd Devereaux: Signed through next season, Devereaux took a step back this season. He was a healthy scratch through the entire playoff series. He'll have to show progress next season.

Kris Draper: An unrestricted free agent next season, Draper perhaps would take less to remain a Red Wing. But how much less, especially if he has a good season? A lot of teams think highly of him.

Sergei Fedorov: An unrestricted free agent, Fedorov could very well remain in Detroit if he's willing to accept an offer somewhere close to $10 million per season. If there are teams willing to go higher, the Wings won't and can't get in a bidding contest, and he's free to leave.

Tomas Holmstrom: An unrestricted free agent next season. Another 20-goal season like this one and he also might price himself out of the Wings' market.

Brett Hull: Signed for next season (at $5.5 million), Hull, 39, will be coming off a personally disappointing playoff series (no goals). Age is an obvious concern, but given his track record, it's difficult to doubt him.

Igor Larionov: An unrestricted free agent, he might have played his last game a Red Wing. But we've said that for the last three or four years. If the Wings are adamant about cutting costs, he won't return unless he accepts a much lower salary. But at age 42, Larionov might just want to retire.

Kirk Maltby: Just signed a four-year deal this season. He isn't going anywhere, and the Wings could expand his role.

Darren McCarty: An unrestricted free agent. The Wings aren't likely to offer much more than his current $1.95 million. They just can't. He very well could make more in the free-agent market.

Luc Robitaille: The Wings will not pick up his $4 million option and instead buy him out at $1 million. They feel they can go younger and cheaper at this position.

Brendan Shanahan: Signed through next season, with a team option for another year (at $6.5 million), Shanahan isn't going anywhere. And his future with the Wings won't be in question for at least another two seasons.

Steve Yzerman: An unrestricted free agent, he'll retire a Red Wing. Be it this summer (unlikely) or next summer (more likely). He is still the heart and soul of this team.

Henrik Zetterberg: Possibly the NHL Rookie of the Year, Zetterberg is the future of the Wings, along with players such as Datsyuk, Fischer, Bykov and prospects such as wing Igor Grigorenko, defenseman Niklas Kronvall and center Jiri Hudler. This is the next generation of Red Wings.