The Red Wings didn't look aggressive. They lacked scoring punch and were pushed around by the Predators, who won the series in five games.
Now, with an estimated $20 million-plus in cap space, the Red Wings have the chance to rectify the situation that sparked their first-round playoff bow by pursuing one of the National Hockey League's most-coveted free agents: the New Jersey Devils' Zach Parise.
Parise is a 27-year-old, defensive-minded physical winger who would potentially fill in the voids that were so evident in the playoffs: A lack of defensive forwards willing to do the dirty work in front of the net, and the need for a physical force to combat other hard-nosed forwards and defensemen.
Parise isn't a one-stop, do-all fix. However, the Red Wings, no doubt, will look to bolster their roster this summer and add pieces around him, should Parise sign. Detroit GM Ken Holland said there are changes coming.
"We have lots of cap space, and there'll be players available July 1," Holland said to the Detroit Free Press. "We're going to look at free agency, but the NHL is so tight now. The days of us having way more depth than the opposition or one extra star, those are over for everybody. It's a league that's very, very close."
Parise, who scored 31 goals and notched 38 assists in the regular season (69 points), was one of the most-productive wingers in the NHL. In seven of his pro seasons, he's tallied 60 or more points five times, highlighted by a 94-point season in 2008 which was followed by an 82-point showing in 2009.
He'd be a valuable asset to the Red Wings, a team which plays a style that he appreciates.
"I think they play the right way,'' Parise said. "They play hard. The puck possession is great. The way the (defense) gets involved is awesome. They play a great style of hockey. Really fun to watch.''
Imagine Parise playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk, a Selke Award-winning forward who is one of the league's best facilitators.
"He's awesome,'' Parise said. "He does everything out there. Just some of the passes he makes to set up guys are unbelievable.
"He does everything and plays the game the right way. For any player just watching him, you try to mimic some things he does out there. It's not fun playing against him, but he's fun to watch."
It's likely that Holland will make a respectable offer this offseason to Parise, who made $6 million with the Devils in 2011-12. But the Red Wings may do one better, and offer the young star somewhere in the neighborhood of $7-9 million just to secure him and battle off potential suitors.
The free-agency frenzy is around the corner, and the Red Wings need to make an impact. Signing Parise would do that.
Adam Biggers has followed the National Hockey League for over 20 years, specifically the Detroit Red Wings. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
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