Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock occasionally finds himself jotting down line combinations on napkins during the lazy summer days he spends at his lake house in Saskatchewan. He's a fan of the two new names he can now write into his top six.
The Red Wings on Friday signed 40-year-old right wing Daniel Alfredsson to a one-year contract reportedly worth $5.5 million and 30-year-old center Stephen Weiss to a five-year contract reportedly worth $24.5 million.
Alfredsson had spent his entire 18-year career with the Ottawa Senators, including the past 14 as captain. Weiss had played only for the Florida Panthers since entering the NHL in 2002. Combined, the two newest Red Wings have 1,502 points in 1,832 regular-season games. Alfredsson accounts for 1,108 of those points and 1,178 of the games.
"We wanted to get more scoring to our team. I felt we were challenged last year to score some goals," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "Daniel has been a tremendous scorer, one of the great scorers in the National Hockey League. Stephen Weiss has been one of the tremendous playmakers down in Florida. We're adding a playmaker and a scorer, and I think Daniel can also make plays and Stephen can score some goals."
Babcock said he envisions Weiss centering Detroit's second line and Alfredsson playing right wing on either of the top two lines.
With Weiss in the mix, Babcock said he also likes the fact he will be able to play Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk on the same line, something he favors but wasn't able to do in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs because the Red Wings needed more scoring on their second line and Valtteri Filppula wasn't providing enough.
Filppula signed a five-year contract, reportedly worth $25 million, with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
"What I look at is we'll be able to have multiple combinations, and that's very important," Babcock told NHL.com.
In addition to line combinations, Babcock is thrilled to have Alfredsson in the mix for three reasons:
"No. 1, he's smart, a real high hockey IQ," Babcock said. "The second thing that comes to mind with me is competitive; he's ultra-competitive and in the big games he lifts his game. He's just been one of those guys. The third thing I think of is right-handed shot. We need one badly."
Alfredsson said he chose the Red Wings instead of the Senators because he believes Detroit gives him a better chance to win the Stanley Cup in 2014.
"I've played 18 years and haven't won the Stanley Cup. That's my dream," Alfredsson said. "I had an opportunity to talk to a couple of teams, talked to Ken and Babcock [Thursday]. They showed some real interest and thought I could help their team. Everybody knows Detroit's goals are to be at the top and to win championships. They've done that in the past. I'm really excited to go for a Stanley Cup and fulfill a longtime dream."
Babcock eagerly anticipates a working relationship with Alfredsson. He said he envisions it being similar to those he has with Datsyuk and Zetterberg and used to have with Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan and Dominik Hasek.
"The other thing he's going to do is make the coaching staff better," Babcock said of Alfredsson. "He's a guy who is going to have an opinion. He's been around a long time, and when you ask him a question, he's going to give you an answer. I'm ecstatic for our team. To be honest with you, I learned a lot from Nick and [Zetterberg] and [Pavel] and [Shanahan] and Yzerman and [Chelios] and [Dominik] over the years. Why not have another one?"
Babcock said he sees Weiss as an upgrade over Filppula because of the production.
Weiss had six seasons with at least 42 points with the Panthers, including two with 60 or more. He also had 57 points in 80 games in 2011-12, but a bad start coupled with a wrist injury led to Weiss scoring four points in 17 games in 2012-13. He has a career average of .602 points per game.
Filppula produced more than 60 points once in seven full seasons with the Red Wings. He has a career average of .519 points per game.
"[Filppula] is a great player, a good two-way player, we just think Weiss gives us more offense," Babcock said. "That's what the [NHL] Guide and Record book says and that's what I look at. Over a period of time it doesn't lie."
Weiss spent his junior days playing near Detroit for the Plymouth Whalers. He actually drew comparisons at that age to Yzerman for his two-way game.
"I like going up against the best players and trying to shut them down and also be accountable too," Weiss said. "That's where those comparisons came from. Obviously we've had pretty different careers to this date, but it's pretty neat to come back to a city where I have played before and used to watch the Wings and watch Steve play there. I wondered about playing for that franchise one day, so it's kind of surreal."
Weiss said the pressure to win in Detroit will make him a better player.
"I think my game will thrive," he said.
Babcock does too.
"We really believe putting him into a winning environment with great players and an ultra-competitive demand that it's going to make him a better player," Babcock said. "It will also help our guys and we'll be able to generate two lines, plus I can play [Datsyuk and Zetterberg] together way more, which I'd like to do."
Helm missed all but one game in 2012-13 with a back injury, but Holland said Red Wings trainer Piet Van Zant recently told him Helm was getting better and is expected to be healthy for training camp in September.
Andersson is a restricted free agent who is expected to return.
"We have a lot of pieces here," Holland said. "I feel good about our nucleus. I feel good that Pavel Datsyuk re-upped for three more years, so we have Pavel for four more years. We believe we have a tremendous goaltender in Jimmy Howard. With the additions of Alfie and Stephen Weiss, we think we'll be a lot deeper up front."