Red Wings Free Agents: 4 Defensemen to Pursue After Losing out on Suter, Weber
The Detroit Red Wings have had a disappointing offseason to say the least, and they are still in need of a defenseman to upgrade their blue line.
After fanning on unrestricted free agent targets Zach Parise and Ryan Suter (watching them both go to Minnesota), the Red Wings failed to make a move for Shea Weber and the Flyers capitalized in the short run by signing him to an offer sheet that was later matched by the Nashville Predators.
But what's in the past is in the past for Ken Holland and the Red Wings management; the future is here and it is right now.
Detroit has only six NHL defensemen signed right now (Kronwall, Quincey, Ericsson, White, Smith and Kindl) and the inexperience on the blue line is fairly obvious.
But overshadowing this inexperience is the lack of depth after these six defensemen. After Nick Lidstrom and Brad Stuart left this offseason, Detroit's need for talent on the blue line remains as clear as ever.
So with just over $13 million in cap space (per CapGeek.com), who should Detroit sign to challenge for a full-time roster spot?
Here are four players Ken Holland must pursue to round out the defense for the coming season.
1. Kurtis Foster
The departure of Brad Stuart has left a hole and the Red Wings are in need of a physical presence on the back end.
Kurtis Foster had 46 hits and 35 blocked shots (per NHL.com) in 51 games this past season (with three different teams), and Foster brings the ability to be a game changer in his own zone with his 6'5", 225-pound frame.
Foster put up just 14 points last season, but again he was spread out over three different teams in the same year.
In 2009-10, Foster put up 42 points in 71 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so he does have some ability to put up points.
If he can stay healthy, Foster could be a huge steal for Detroit as his last contract was only $1.8 million per season (per CapGeek.com) and anywhere around the $2 million range (for possibly two or three years) would be a good insurance contract for Ken Holland.
2. Carlo Colaiacovo
Carlo Colaiacovo may have had only 19 points last season, but he played in just 64 games as well.
The Red Wings are in need of an insurance player on defense, and while Colaiacovo doesn't bring anything exceptional to the table (the St. Louis Blues haven't re-signed him to this point), he is a serviceable defenseman who can fill in if need be.
Colaiacovo had 73 hits and 81 blocked shots this past season (per NHL.com) so he can also help out there.
The big thing that drew me to Colaiacovo was his penalty minutes. With just 22 penalty minutes last season (and 12 coming in the penultimate game of the season), Colaiacovo has proven that he can defend reasonably well without getting sloppy and taking bad penalties.
3. Matt Gilroy
If you watch Matt Gilroy play, you won't be wowed, but Gilroy who made $1 million last season (per CapGeek.com) did play well between his stints with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Ottawa Senators.
Gilroy put up 20 points in 67 games last season with 59 hits and 75 blocked shots, averaging 17:30 of ice time (per NHL.com).
If the Red Wings gave Gilroy an offer it wouldn't be more than $1.3 million, but Gilroy could be used to push the sixth defenseman (likely Jakub Kindl) to be better in training camp.
Gilroy would serve as a solid sixth defenseman if the need arose. Red Wings fans saw how valuable a seventh defenseman can be this past season when a bunch of players went down with injuries late in the season (Lidstrom's ankle, Ericsson's wrist, etc).
4. Mike Commodore
Mike Commodore part one in Detroit didn't work so well.
Commodore was the seventh defenseman and only got rotated in on the odd night, playing just 30 games total (17 with the Red Wings and 13 with the Tampa Bay Lightning where Ken Holland traded him to at the trade deadline).
But as the Red Wings only have six NHL defensemen, Commodore could sign with Detroit and be a seventh defenseman once again. The role isn't one that he would prefer, but seeing as how Detroit seems to hit an injury bug every year (especially later in the season), Commodore would be a great fit on the third line and bring experience to a now fairly young defense.
Commodore's play last year gave him just two assists, but he had 53 hits and 32 blocked shots in the 30 games that he played.
As a seventh defenseman playing in limited action those would be very respectable statistics and Commodore would be very valuable if an injury did arise at the price that he signed for last year of $1 million (via CapGeek.com).
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