Even if Carlo Colaiacovo isn't an elite defenseman, he might be the best one remaining on the market this offseason. And for the Red Wings, he could be the only player available who can compensate for their failure to sign Ryan Suter.
After Suter inked a 13-year, $98 million deal with Minnesota, the Red Wings were left out in the cold and without a free agent defenseman acquisition. But maybe not for long.
According to TrueHockey.com's Andy Strickland, Detroit is one of the teams that has expressed interest in signing Colaiacovo. But to do so, it will likely have to compete with Tampa Bay and Nashville.
That, of course, would work out swimmingly for Colaiacovo: he'll likely emerge from this free-agency period with a much more lucrative contract than he would any other year, when there was a more abundant supply of available blueliners.
The loss of Suter doubtlessly hurts for Ken Holland and the Red Wings management, particularly in the wake of Nicklas Lidstrom's retirement and Brad Stuart's defection to San Jose. They, more than anyone, needed an elite defenseman to step in and fill the void.
But with very few available options, they will now have to set their sights on Colaiacovo—and on the bright side, after whiffing on Suter, they have the funds to sign him.
To be fair, Colaiacovo hasn't been bad. When he's been healthy, he's been an effective offensive blueliner, registering 77 points over parts of the last three seasons with the Blues. But keeping him healthy is what has proven to be an issue.
Colaiacovo suffered a major concussion in January 2006 that knocked him out for the remainder of that season, and in his first game back the following year, he hurt his hand and missed a couple of months. At the end of the 2007 season, he had arthroscopic knee surgery, and he was placed on injured reserve at the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign after suffering an upper-body injury in the Blues' first game.
His injury history may be lengthy, but the Red Wings are going to have to take a chance with him or risk going into the 2012-13 season with massive holes on their roster. And Colaiacovo isn't a worst-case scenario; he's a former first-rounder with a lot of talent, and he's coming off a year in which he helped the Blues achieve one of their best seasons in franchise history.
He logged 19 minutes per game for the Blues last season, and Strickland claims that sources said Colaiacovo is "better than 75 percent of the defensemen available."
All things considered, it could be worse.
Colaiacovo isn't the perfect option, but he's not a terrible option, either. More importantly, though, is the fact that at this point, he's one of the only options.