MLive's Ansar Kahn wrote an article answering 10 burning questions the Red Wings will have to answer this offseason. Most of them are pretty interesting so I'll try my hand at answering them as well.
(1) Will Nicklas Lidstrom return?
Know this: Any speculation on Lidstrom's return will be just that: speculation. I highly doubt Nick is going to tip his hand during interviews from now until his decision (which I expect to come a couple of weeks before the NHL Draft). I don't think that anyone but Lidstrom, his family, Ken Holland, and Mike Babcock really know what he's thinking as far as retirement, but my hunch is that he sticks around one more year. While he does turn 42 on Saturday, I think that he still realizes he can compete at a very high level, and that this season would have been an incredible one for him if not for the foot injury that slowed him down. Twenty seasons, four Stanley Cups, and seven Norris trophies is a lot to hang your hat on, and it almost sounds like I'm talking myself out of my hunch, but I still think he has one more year left in him.
(2) Have we seen Tomas Holmstrom's final game?
This is a tough one. I've always been of the opinion that when Nick hangs the skates up, Tomas would too, and vice-versa, but with Lidstrom still playing at such a high level and Homer clearly on the decline, I think that opinion has changed. I think he can still play on this team and I'm confident the Wings would bring him back if he wants to, but the concern is where he would fit in the lineup. As Kahn pointed out, 10 of his 11 goals came on the power play, but I don't think that using a roster spot for essentially a net-front presence on the power play is a good use of resources. Even at his age he still doesn't belong on the fourth line, but ultimately I think Game 5 was Homer's last NHL game.
(3) What makes you so sure Brad Stuart won't return?
By now we all seem to be experts on Brad Stuart's family situation, but I'm 99.99% sure he won't be returning to Detroit. Don't let his poor playoff performance cloud judgement of Stuart - he's been an instrumental piece of this team ever since he was brought over, and pairing him with Niklas Kronwall turned out to be very successful. I'm inclined to believe that he wants to stay with the Wings, but family reasons will always outweigh hockey reasons, especially with a guy like Stuart, so it's a very good bet that he'll be playing out on the west coast next year.
(4) Should they re-sign Jiri Hudler?
I'm going to say no. The main question here is how much will Hudler want on the open market? While he was criticized a lot during the season, he did score 25 goals and it's highly likely he'll want a nice raise from his current $2.875 million salary. Frankly I don't want to spend over $3 million on a player like Hudler who definitely is talented, but struggles with consistency and has a lack of size and speed. I'd much rather try and let Hudler cash in on free agency. Plus, after the season Valtteri Filppula had, I'd much rather have him stick around (and not use him as trade bait) and let Hudler walk.
(5) Are they more apt to land Zach Parise or Ryan Suter?
Parise. In fact, I will be completely shocked and disappointed if Zach Parise is not in a Red Wing uniform next year. I think Holland will go after the Devils captain hard in the offseason and come away with him. He'd be a perfect match with Pavel Datsyuk (which will be a nice selling point) and if Gustav Nyquist is actually moved up to the first line, that would create a pretty deadly and talented trio. Suter is tough to get a read on. I've noticed that a lot of people think that with Nashville taking Detroit out in the first round that Suter wouldn't be as inclined to head here but I wouldn't be so sure, especially if Lidstrom comes back for another year. Also: Close the book on Shea Weber talks. It's not happening.
(6) Will they look to trade Johan Franzen?
I have no doubt Holland will explore all avenues with Franzen, so they may look, but I don't think Franzen will be traded. We're all upset/disappointed in him but he did lead the team in goals with 29 and can be brilliant at times. The problem is consistency and looking like he doesn't care at all during games. Next year will be very interesting, and I think the kind of year he has in 2012-13 will foreshadow how the upcoming years of that monster contract will play out.
(7) Can Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist make a difference next season?
Short answer is yes. While it's an unpopular opinion, I think we all got a little too excited about what Nyquist brought to the table this season, but that doesn't mean he didn't deserve to be playing in a top-six role. Seven points in 18 games was pretty good for the rookie Nyquist, and with more games under his belt we will truly be able to see what a steal it was to draft this kid in the fourth round of the draft. Look for him to add strength in the offseason to get even better. Smith also will make a difference next season. He showed flashes of brillance and flashes of being a rookie in his 14 games played this past season, but he's 23 and has reached a level where he's too good for the AHL. It's time.
(8) Are they missing something from their third and fourth lines?
The Helm injury makes this hard to answer, but the Wings' third and fourth lines (unfortunately) carried the team for short stretches during the season yet but struggled down the stretch. With Helm, Abdelkader, and Miller likely coming back, they have a solid group to build upon in the bottom-six. The questions begin with the expendable guys: Eaves, Emmerton, Mursak, etc. A player like Dallas Drake would be nice, but the Wings are probably keen on keeping Emmerton and Mursak around for at least another year. We'll see.
(9) Who will be their backup goaltender?
I hope it'll be Joey MacDonald. It's definitely not going to be Ty Conklin, and just for insurance I'm sure the Wings will look around at a veteran who would be willing to sign a two-way contract. But I hope MacDonald is able to stick around, back injury taken care of, of course.
(10) Does Jakub Kindl have a long-term future with this organization?
A pretty solid question that I'm going to answer with no. It's disappointing, because the Wings used a high (well, high for them) draft pick on Kindl and he started off looking like a future power play quarterback, but definitely has regressed. But think of it this way: As Kahn points out, even if Lidstrom and Stuart are gone, that leaves the Wings' D corp left with Kronwall, Ericsson, White, Quincey, Smith, and a free agent that hopefully has the name of Ryan Suter. Going to be tough for Kindl to beat out any one of those guys to crack the top-six. And that's if Lidstrom doesn't come back. He'll be kept around for depth and could possibly play well enough to earn some trade consideration, but I just don't see that happening.