Ken Holland is not used to rejection.
The Detroit Red Wings' executive vice president and general manager has signed several high-impact free agents over the years, like Brett Hull, Luc R0bitaille, Dominik Hasek, Curtis Joseph, Brian Rafalski and most recently, Mikael Samuelson (twice).
But he lost out on trying to bring Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to the Wings. The two free agents decided to sign with the Minnesota Wild for identical 13-year, $98 million contracts.
Holland wanted both, making what he said were "good offers" for the NHL's top two free agents this summer. He added the offers were "significant ... and competitive."
In the end, Parise and Suter decided to go home to be close to family.
Holland particulary had his sights on defenseman Suter in an attempt to shore up a blueline corps weakened by the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and the departure of Brad Stuart through free agency.
Now, Holland must turn to Plan B if he hopes to improve the Wings and make them not only playoff contenders again, but Stanley Cup contenders, as well.
Holland has a lot of salary cap space to work with and he has signed free agents Samuelson, feisty forward Jordin Tootoo and backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
Not exactly glamourous moves like Parise and Suter would have been, but players who will give the Red Wings some grit and depth.
Samuelson will adequately replace Jiri Hudler, who left for the Calgary Flames; Gustavsson should be an improvement over last season's goaltending backups Ty Conklin and Joey MacDonald; and Tootoo, though limited offensively, should give the Wings some toughness up front.
But the Wings need to shore up their blueline and get a speedy forward capable of 20-30 goals a season.
Defenseman Brendan Smith, who played 14 games with Detroit last season, will get every chance to make the team in 2012-12 and play major minutes.
Adding a scorer up front might be difficult for Holland. But with Darren Helm, Danny Cleary and Patrick Eaves - who all missed significant ice team last season with injuries - back and healthy, the Wings might be more able to score by committee than Parise would have added by himself.
Holland has said he won't spend more money than any remaining free agent is worth just to make a move.
The Wings have such a solid reputation around the NHL, they don't need to make huge headlines.
Their excellance over the years speaks volumes.
The Wings won't likely win the President's Cub at the end of next season as the league's top team. But as we saw with the Los Angeles Kings in 2011-12, it's how far you go in the playoffs and not necessarily how well you do in the regular season that counts.
But if the team really wants to make a run for the the Stanley Cup, Holland must find a way to tweak the Wings' roster to make it happen.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org