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April 23, 2012 | 10:06am ET
Busy summer ahead for the Wings
TheFourthPeriod.com

As the Red Wings deal with an early exit from this year's playoffs, GM Ken Holland is already thinking about a potential splash-making summer to restore the franchise's glory.

According to the Detroit News, the Wings will have approximately $22 million in salary cap space available from the players whose contracts expire this off-season.

While some of that will be allotted towards captain Nicklas Lidstrom, if he chooses to return, the club is expected to pursue Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, should he hit the open market.

However, the bigger issues are up front as the Wings lacked offense, which caused their elimination from the first round, and should attempt to acquire New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise to keep their position as Cup contenders.

"Our goal this summer is to be as aggressive as we can be in free agency, if players that we like are available," Holland said. "We'll also explore the trade market. I think we have a lot of good pieces, and people that think there's just Stanley Cup dust to sprinkle are gonna be disappointed."

The Red Wings aren't likely to make more drastic changes up front, since the team's core will be back, headlined by Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula, while Danny Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi add size and scoring capability. Forwards Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, both pending restricted free agents, are expected to be re-signed.

"Certainly we want to make some changes to our team," Holland added. "First off, the league is wide open. Pittsburgh, San Jose and Detroit are out. It's hard to build to last four or five years, and it's hard to have depth. We've got to do some tweaks and make some moves, but I think we can compete with all the teams in the West."

There remains a chance that Suter and Parise will choose to stay with their respective clubs before July 1. Holland could then decide to turn his attention to other forwards who could be available this summer, which include Predators winger Andrei Kostitsyn, Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, Calgary Flames center Olli Jokinen and Anaheim Ducks veteran Saku Koivu.

Meanwhile, adding someone like Suter to the blueline would certainly lighten the workload on Lidstrom, who is mulling over retirement.

While the Wings will need more complementary pieces and possibly a few big pieces, many free agents could be tempted to work with the likes of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall and others.

Though it is a tough market to predict, the Wings have the means for the first time since the 2004-05 lockout to make a splash this summer.

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