NHL Free Agency: Detroit Red Wings Sign Carlo Colaiacovo, Fill Defensive Holes

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NHL Free Agency: Detroit Red Wings Sign Carlo Colaiacovo, Fill Defensive Holes
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Have the Detroit Red Wings finally found their Nicklas Lidstrom replacement?

Probably not.

But the signing of 29-year-old defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will be a start.

Colaiacovo, who has established himself with four solid seasons in St. Louis, will join a needy Red Wings back end in 2012-2013.

Reeling from the retirements of Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski and the departure of Brad Stuart in a 13-month stretch, Detroit needs Colaiacovo to provide excellent depth to a unit that has fallen into the NHL's bottom tier.

From 2008-09 to 2011-12 with the Blues, Colaiacovo established himself as a well-rounded second-pairing blueliner when healthy—he missed between 15 and 20 games in each of the past three campaigns.

The 6'1", 200-pound rearguard averaged 26 points, 66 hits and 74 blocked shots per season during his St. Louis tenure, maintaining steady statistics among a loaded Blues' defense. The former first-round pick was able to stabilize his career after a rough half decade in the Toronto Maple Leafs system.

Now, he'll head off to a former Central Division rival on a two-year contract worth $2.5 million per year.

Detroit GM Ken Holland is pleased to add depth to his roster at a reasonable price. Holland told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press:

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"Carlo gives us another veteran defenseman for our team. He can play on power play. He's got the ability to get the puck in the hands of our forwards. It's another veteran."

Colaiacovo will join an uncertain cast of defensemen in Hockeytown.

B-grade blueliners Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey and Ian White are currently trusted to carry the unit's weight in the coming season. Youngsters Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl have promise, but Colaiacovo's presence will be greatly appreciated.

The Red Wings are also coming off a mediocre 11-12 campaign, finishing 25th in hits and 28th in blocked shots en route to a surprising first-round playoff exit.

As longtime cornerstones Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg begin to age, and cloudiness continues to surround goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson, a new era could soon be forced upon Detroit.

In the meantime, though, Colaiacovo will help to steady the ship.

Mark Jones has been a Bleacher Report featured columnist since 2009. He has written more than 415 articles and received more than 700,000 reads. 

Visit his profile to read more, or follow him on Twitter.

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