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Detroit Red Wings Sign Gustav Nyquist; What’s Next for the Team?

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Detroit Red Wings Sign Gustav Nyquist; What’s Next for the Team?
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Gustav Nyquist, seen here in the AHL All-Star game, became the last restricted free agent to sign with …

COMMENTARY | The final restricted free agent has been signed for the Detroit Red Wings as Gustav Nyquist signed a two-year, $1.9 million deal Tuesday, August 20.

Now, the Red Wings have to trim their current 25-man roster to 23 players two days before the regular season begins Oct. 2.

The Red Wings could assign Nyquist or defenseman Danny DeKeyser to the Grand Rapids Griffins in order to trim the roster, as these two would be the only ones exempt from waivers.

However, I don't see general manager Ken Holland doing that. Both Nyquist and DeKeyser proved they belong on the Red Wings full-time, and I have a hard time believing Holland doesn't want to reward them with spots on the club.

DeKeyser's stay with the Red Wings was cut short as he injured his thumb against the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the playoffs, but his short stay didn't get unnoticed. He's a big, stay-at-home defenseman who has great puck-handling skills and makes good decisions with the puck. He'll be with the Red Wings, for sure.

Nyquist also made an impression with the Red Wings as a third-line winger with Joakim Andersson and Damien Brunner. That third line was probably the best third line in the league as it had a good mix of size, speed and goal-scoring capabilities.

The Red Wings haven't re-signed Brunner yet, and probably won't, but Nyquist could still be on the third line with Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar, provided Helm is healthy enough when the season starts.

Speaking of Helm, he may be able to help the Red Wings trim one spot off the roster as he could start the season on injured reserve. Obviously, no one wants to see Helm sitting in the press box to start the season, but it would allow Holland to keep one more forward until Helm returns.

The other option is simply waiving two forwards. Ideally, it would be Mikael Saumuelsson and Patrick Eaves. About a month ago, I wrote that it should be Samuelsson and Cory Emmerton, but I think the Red Wings would like to keep Emmerton around in case Helm doesn't come back. That way they have another center they can plug into the fourth line and bump up Andersson to the third line.

Samuelsson's contract will help him stay, even though he hasn't contributed enough to warrant keeping a spot on the roster. He signed his current contract for when he was 35 years or older, so his cap hit would not come off the Red Wings' salary cap, and the Red Wings still are $637,000 over the $64.3 million salary cap. Plus, he has a no-trade clause, so it would be almost impossible to move him somewhere with his consent.

Eaves could be a casualty. The Red Wings recently signed Drew Miller to an extension, an offer Eaves did not get. So, it's clear the Red Wings are putting more stock in Miller than in Eaves.

There is always the option of trading someone as well, but not many -- if any -- teams are going to be interested in fourth-line players such as Eaves, Emmerton or Jordin Tootoo.

The Red Wings still have some work to do, for sure. Luckily, they have about a month and a half to get everything figured out. The preseason could bring about some injuries, and they may not have to let anyone go at the beginning of the season.

Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.

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